Terenure draw a little comfort
No one at Lansdowne Road on Saturday could have honestly thought this was destined for a draw. Not that it was far from the deserved result. Lansdowne had stolen a lead, then let it slip. Terenure had chased hard, then failed to finish.
And all the while there was little to tingle the senses. Yet both demonstrated clear potential to have a major influence later in the season. For the moment, though, there is a lot of tidying up to do.
Both sides had first-game-of-the-season written all over them and the amount of turnover and unforced errors would take the whole page to catalogue. Consistency in the line-out was non-existent and while the Lansdowne pack was by far the more effective, they also conceded an exorbitant number of penalties.
Shane Cullen and Mark Woods exchanged penalties in the opening quarter hour but the rest of the half seemed more like a warm-up exercise for both sides. Lansdowne's backs looked the more threatening but lacked the flair to make the breakthrough.
Then, just before the break, Lansdowne scrum-half Shane Whelan pulled the ball from the scrum and made a quick switch out to Gus Hamilton. The Terenure defence had been easily fooled and the Australian had little trouble dashing under the posts. Woods easily converted.
From then on, Lansdowne couldn't go five minutes without conceding a penalty, almost all for infringements in the scrum. (Angus McKean was most guilty and he was sin-binned just before the break.) Cullen cut the lead back but on 50 minutes, Lansdowne picked off what should have been the conclusive score.
Hamilton chipped the ball towards the right corner and while Derek Hegarty seemed to have it covered, a horrible bounce put it into the hands of Lorcan O'Brien. Another Woods conversion left it 17-6 in Lansdowne's favour.
That Terenure were allowed back from there was a combination of their determination and Lansdowne's lack of concentration. Two more penalties, the first from Cullen and then a superb boot from Richard Governey, eroded the gap to five points. The last 15 minutes would belong almost exclusively to Terenure.
A score was almost inevitable and it came with just under 10 minutes left. David Coleman rarely wilts when he gets the ball and after cutting through Robbie Dolan and Hamilton, his trademark speed carried him over. Now level, Governey stepped up for the conversion. The ball bounced back off the upright, setting up a nervous last five minutes.
Lansdowne were the first to concede a penalty. Some 40 metres out, Governey's effort fell left and wide. And just before the final whistle, Cullen too failed to split the posts. Nobody was complaining.
Scoring sequence: 5 mins: Cullen pen, 3-0; 12 mins: Woods pen, 3-3; 37 mins: Hamilton try, Woods con, 3-10; 45 mins: Cullen pen, 6-10; 50 mins: O'Brien try, Woods con, 6-17; 53 mins: Cullen pen, 9-17; 65 mins: Governey pen, 12-17; 73 mins: Coleman try, 17-17.
Lansdowne: G Hamilton; L O'Brien, S Horgan, R Niland, R Dolan; M Woods, S Whelan; E Bohan, O Ennis, A McKean, G Quinn, S O'Connor, S Rooney, A McCullen, C McEntee. Replace- ments: D Dornan for Rooney (43 mins, temp), B Cusack for Quinn (59 mins).
Terenure: R Governey; D Coleman, M O'Kelly, M Smyth, J Coffey; S Cullen, D Hegarty; S Barretto, C Egan, J Campbell, R Sheriff, D Quinn, P O'Malley, L Hammond, C Long. Replacements: A Ryan for Hammond (35 mins), D Blaney for Long (71 mins).
Referee: O Trevor (Munster).
Yellow cards: Lansdowne - A McKean (39 mins).