UCD 61 – 0 Old Wesley

UCD RFC Under 20s maintained their place at the top of the JP Fanagan Premier – Super Six – Pool 1 table with an enthralling victory over an Old Wesley side that never got out first gear.

The blustery conditions from the outset threatened to mar the occasion, but in the end didn’t deter the young Collidge side from being relentless in attack and steamrolling an Old Wesley team that never looked like threatening the UCD try line.

Both sides struggled to dominate the game during the opening stages, with Old Wesley being awarded three penalties for UCD indiscipline at the breakdown. Despite diving in and gifting Old Wesley an easy way out of their own half on three separate instances, UCD eventually kicked into gear when blindside flanker David Fortune broke numerous tackles in a crowded Old Wesley defence and powered into the opponents’ twenty-two.

Fortune’s ability to break the line and put Old Wesley on the back foot defensively gave UCD a great platform in their opponents’ half and following two phases, centre Garry Ringrose bundled himself over the line in the corner. The difficult conversion looked like it was beyond any Collidge player’s kicking ability, but the immense Jack Hitchcock managed to slot the ball between the posts despite the windy conditions.

From the resulting restart, Ross Molony of UCD knocked on, granting Old Wesley a scrum just on the UCD twenty-two line. Old Wesley struggled to recycle the ball from the scrum and the sheer power of the UCD front row consisting of Ivan Soroko, Dylan Donnellan and Dermot Donlan saw the college side turnover the ball, with flyhalf Byrne opting to kick long and relieve the pressure.

Not many opportunities arose for Old Wesley during the afternoon, and their inability to recycle the ball for more than three phases at a time meant they posed little or no threat to the UCD try line.

On 14 minutes, UCD grabbed their second try of the game after Old Wesley were penalised for not releasing the player on the ground. Byrne opted to kick for the corner.

From the resulting lineout, UCD gathered the throw from Donnellan and decided to pick and drive their way towards the Old Wesley try line. Three phases on, Stuart O’Sullivan had a great opportunity to utilise an overlap by spreading the ball wide, but was taken to ground. From the next play, however, Soroko was fed the ball by scrumhalf Bobby Holland and managed to finish well from close range just beside the posts.

With score at 14-0, UCD were dominating their opponents, but were still giving away too many penalties in attacking positions, thus gifting Old Wesley an easy way out of their own twenty-two when their defense was barely coping with the UCD onslaught.

The chances for UCD to extend their lead continued as the game went past the twenty-minute mark. Off a lineout in the Old Wesley twenty-two, flyhalf Byrne received the ball and cut across field to pass to his outside centre partner, Hitchcock, who straightened and broke the first tackle.

Hitchcock did well to keep one arm free to offload the ball to Ringrose following through on his left shoulder and the inside centre ran in an easy score from close range.

Old Wesley suffered a further blow before half time following an uncharacteristic lull in UCD’s play around the half hour mark. Two tries in quick succession by Holland and Byrne bravely taking on the Old Wesley forwards around the fringes of the ruck just before the break put the game completely out of reach for the visitors.

The second half saw Collidge extend their lead to 61 points, with Old Wesley virtually anonymous for the entire second half as they barely registered any plays of note.

It took UCD until the 44th minute to register another score, but had numerous clean line breaks, as Fortune and the UCD centre partnership of Ringrose and Hitchcock continued to feed off pop passes from flyhalf Byrne to break the Old Wesley defensive line.

The try itself came off another very clean set piece drill that saw UCD pass the ball through the hands until Ringrose got the ball and straightened to break through Old Wesley. The inside centre was unlucky to be held up so close to the line, but support arrived from his pack and the ball was recycled, allowing the scrumhalf, Holland, to pick up from the base of the ruck, feign a long pass wide to his flyhalf and dart through a gap just under the posts.

Collidge continued to have spells of excellent play during the second half, while also having periods where too many unforced errors stifled their attacking opportunities.

Between the 52nd and 58th minute, UCD were back to their clinical ways and racked up a further 19 points thanks to tries from substitute Robert Keenan, winger James Carroll and Hitchcock making his now trademark burst through the centre of the Old Wesley’s defence and then stepping their full back to bring UCD’s points tally to 61 for the afternoon.

After making it 61-0, the game trickled away as a long break in play was needed to take the injured winger Carroll off the pitch after he took a heavy fall and left the pitch clutching his collarbone. UCD settled for the points they had amassed and Old Wesley settled for the showers.

UCD RFC Under 20s fourth fixture in the JP Fanagan Premier – Super Six – Pool 1 is against NUIM Barnhall in Parsonstown next weekend.