UCD gained revenge on their biggest rivals on Friday in Donnybrook, writes Daniel Keenan.

Dublin University FC 9 – 31 UCD RFC

Last year Dublin University (Trinity) ended UCD’s hopes for an unbeaten season and the Division 2 title, with a 28-20 victory over their South Dublin rivals. Revenge was on the cards for Collidge when the two met last night.

The first half failed to live up to the hype of what is probably Ireland’s biggest University rivalry. This was the 60th Colours match but neither side covered themselves in glory in the opening exchanges. After a scrappy opening ten minutes, with both teams knocking-on and kicking poorly, it was Trinity who drew first blood. UCD went off their feet in their own 22 and Trinity captain David Joyce converted the penalty to make it 3-0.

Four minutes later, a Niall Earls penalty tied up the game before Joyce responded with another simple kick in front of the posts.

It was Trinity who dominated the early play. Their full back line of Niyi Adeolukan, Neil Hanratty and James O’Donoghue looked dangerous with ball in hand, but Trinity failed to spread wide after the first ten minutes. They failed to convert their superiority to points though, with Joyce missing a penalty in the 27th minute.

Earls brought the sides level again in the 36th minute, after UCD went through the phases and found themselves in their opponents’ 22. Trinity went offside and Earls made it 6-6.

Neither side created a real try scoring opportunity in the first half, until in the 38th minute when Neil Hanratty failed to deal with a high ball which was latched onto by Collidge’s Alex Kelly, on for the injured David Lynch. Kelly was dragged down short of the line and the ball was illegally slowed by Trinity scrum-half Michael McLoughlin. UCD were awarded the penalty, with McLoughlin shown a yellow card. Earls made the score 9-6 to the team from Belfield.

Joyce levelled the game once again, after UCD went offside. His kick was the last action of the half, as the sides went in with nine points apiece.

UCD came out for the second half looking to make their numerical advantage count, attacking Trinity straight from the restart. Rob Shanley eventually scored a breakaway try in the 44th minute, with the scrum-half sprinting from the Trinity 10 metre line to touch down and make the score 14-9, after Earls missed the conversion.

The game opened up a bit after the try but neither side were playing particularly creative rugby. Joyce missed a penalty in the 52nd minute and Earls made the score 17-9 with a penalty in the 58th minute. Joyce missed another penalty five minutes later.

After the 70th minute, UCD found their stride and began to notch up the scores. David Doyle showed impressive pace to sprint under the post only to have his try ruled out for a forward pass.

Three minutes later Sam Coughlan Murray scored a brilliant individual try, evading several Trinity tackles to sprint from the halfway line and touch down under the posts. James Thornton made it 24-9 with the conversion.

Trinity should have scored a try in the 78th minute after a rare second half foray in UCD’s 22, but Paddy Lavelle failed to spread the ball wide where Adeolukan stood unmarked. Instead UCD turned the ball over and broke quickly. Coughlan Murray released Alex Kelly who scored under the posts with Thornton adding the 2 points, to make the final score 31-9 to UCD.

On the balance of their second half performance, UCD were deserved winners. While Trinity failed to create a real try scoring opportunity until late in the second half, UCD were clinical in taking their chances.

Trinity were the architects of their own downfall. Joyce missed several scorable kicks at goal which could have even put Trinity into the lead in the last 15 minutes. Their failure to spread the ball wide until late in the second half, when they nearly scored through Adeolukan, left them relying on their forward play which was one dimensional. Constant substituting throughout the game took away from any structure of their play, though it must be said that UCD’s play also suffered as a result of the unlimited substitutions the two teams were allowed.

The two sides are now in different leagues, after UCD gained promotion to Division 1B last season, so to expect as impassioned a game as last year would be unfair.  UCD will go into next Saturday’s home game against Galwegians with a confidence boost but will wonder about the sacrifice made for bragging rights with both David Lynch and Danny Kenny picking up injuries, with the latter seeming to have a head injury.