UCC 17 Clontarf 36
A five-try to two victory suggests energia All-Ireland League Division 1A leaders, Clontarf, registered a routine victory over lowly UCC at the Mardyke on Saturday.
It was far from plain sailing for the visitors, however, though Tarf deserved their bonus point triumph to consolidate their lofty perch in the table.
College will rue not capitalising on a yellow card to Tarf second row Ed Kelly after 56 minutes, when the Dublin side led 17-10, but were defending frantically.
The spirited students dominated from the resumption only to lack the necessary accuracy and composure in their attempts to pierce a rock Tarf defence.
They were awarded a promising five-metre scrum moments after it was 15 against 14, but College allowed themselves be disrupted and lost possession in the process.
Sensing their opportunity, their opponents counter-attacked and with it took much of the sting out of the student challenge by scoring a third try through experienced prop Ivan Soroko, converted by Conor Kearns for 22-10.
Clontarf bagged the all-important bonus point with a fourth try after 68 minutes, substitute Tadhg Bird sending Cian O’Donoghue in for his second.
College, though, are resilient and defiant and hit back with a try from substitute John Willis, six minutes from the with captain Rob Hedderman converting.
That only riled the grizzly old warriors in the Tarf pack and they responded with their fifth try a couple of minutes later, Bird touching down wide on the right.
The opening exchanges offered a hint of what lay in store for College, who suffered like most, when Tarf’s rolling maul started chugging.
They only took three minutes to flex their muscle against their lighter and less experienced forwards, flanker Paul Deeney benefitting for the opening try.
It was 14-0 after 20 minutes, courtesy of O’Riordan following another maul, which, this time, mal-functioned.
College eventually settled and enjoyed a six-minute purple patch, which yielded 10 unanswered points.
Hedderman landed a 32nd minute penalty before the students gave Tarf some of their own medicine with a determined line-out maul, instigated by Mark Bissessar, which resulted in a penalty try.
Typically, Tarf replied almost immediately with a Kearns penalty for 17-10 at the interval.
The opening quarter-hour offered plenty of encouragement for College until Tarf showed why they’re top of the table.
Tries: Pen, J Willis. Con: R Hedderman. Pen: R Hedderman.
Tries: P Deeney, C O’Donoghue (2), I Soroko, T Bird. Cons: C Kearns (4). Pen: C Kearns.
R Hedderman; L Bruce, D French, D Squires, G Coomber; C Whooley, L Kahn; A Heaney, S Buckley, C Hanlon; S O’Sullivan, M Bissessar; A Brien, J O’Sullivan, J Kelleher.
D O’Connor, T Ormond, J Willis, P McBarron, L Kerr, T Duggan.
J Power; M Brown, M Courtney, D Hawkshaw, C O’Donoghue; C Kearns, L Angus; I Soroko, C O’Flynn, B Griffin; E Kelly, C Daly; P Deeney, M Kearney, V Gavin.
B Gray, D Bolger, J Carroll, Z Ryan, T Bird, J Horgan.
D Blake (MAR).