A confident looking UCD side eased passed Bruff RFC in the UCD Bowl last weekend. Aaron Kennedy reports.

UCD 21 – Bruff RFC 8

Coming off the back of a defeat to Buccaneers in Athlone two weeks ago, UCD hoped to bounce back as they welcomed Bruff to the UCD Bowl on Saturday. Collidge have had a mixed start to the season, overcoming UCC but losing to Buccs and suffering a comprehensive beating at the hands of Dungannon. Collidge made several changes to their squad for the visit of Bruff, the most notable of which was replacing Michael Twomey with Andy Boyle at fullback.

Both sides shot out of the gates quickly and had an even share of the play. The match began with a lot of kicking, as Collidge slowly began to edge themselves forward, and set themselves up with a great attacking platform. After a great take in the air by Shane Grannell, the Belfield outfit gained excellent field position following a high-quality kick to touch in the five metre line by winger Tom Fletcher.

The early pressure that was applied forced Bruff to concede penalty after penalty. Bruff were being penalised in the scrum early on, as UCD’s pack were proving to be the more dominant force. This proved costly for Bruff as in the fifth minute, Niall Earls converted a penalty to make it 3-0 to UCD.

A mistake by UCD from the resulting kickoff gave Bruff a good field position to mount an attack on the untested UCD defence. Momentum swung in the Limerick men’s favour as their backs began to make up decent ground against the UCD defence. This resulted in an early try opportunity for Bruff but it was squandered as Bruff conceded a penalty after they went off their feet. More consistent back play resulted in a glorious chance for Bruff, but a knock-on foiled their chances of scoring.

Neither team was critical when it came to scoring and punishing the opposition approaching the twenty-minute mark. After a large period of possession for Bruff, UCD began to come back into the game and started putting immense pressure on the opposition’s defence.

UCD began to spread the ball nicely across the backline and this eventually resulted in a try for the Collidge, as fullback Andy Boyle crossed in the nineteenth minute. Earls missed the conversion, so the score remained 8-0 to the home side.

Bruff were made to rue missed opportunities, as a long-range penalty was converted by Earls in the twenty-third minute to make it 11-0. More and more penalties soon began to creep into the Limerick side’s forward play, which proved to be their downfall in the first-half.

They were soon punished once more for a lack of concentration in the backline when centre David McSharry was released through the centre by Rob Shanley. The newly signed Connacht player touched down to make it 18-0 after the conversion. McSharry was proving to be a handful for the Bruff backline and made another decent burst through their defence before being hauled down short of the line.

Bruff were struggling to get out of their own half and were looking to their wingers, Mark Cosgrove and Andrew Cashman, to spark some inspiration for the team. Approaching the half-time mark, Bruff started to come back into the game and came very close to a try, but the ball was knocked on by fullback Paul O’Brien. A penalty was awarded to Bruff late on but was missed by Brian Cahill.

UCD dominated most aspects of the first-half, making it difficult for Bruff to even exit their own half, with Niall Earls’ kicking pegging them back. The teams went into the half-time break with the score at 18-0.

Earls missed a penalty early in the second half, while good back play soon created chances for Bruff. This resulted in a try in the forty-sixth minute from Michael Carroll, which was not converted. Both teams stood off and created very little in the second-half, as UCD coasted home. A penalty scored by Cahill was merely a consolation for Bruff, as James Thornton came on for Earls and slotted over a kick to finish the match off as a 21-8 victory for UCD.

The win moves UCD up to seventh in the table but the stifled creativity in the second half somewhat tainted the win. With an overall impressive first-half display however, UCD will travel to Ballymena with confidence that they can correct their poor away form.