UCD triumphed over their bitter rivals Trinity again this year in the annual colours contest. The match was the concluding game of each teams season, which saw UCD finish 6th in Division 1A, and Trinity claiming 3rd in Division 1B of the Ulster Bank League. The dramatic eight-try game was played out in UCD’s packed to capacity Belfield Bowl.
The formalities kicked off with the sides clashing anxiously in the opening minutes. The Collidge pack took the initiative and gained ground early on, a solid spell of forward pressure drove the Trinity line backwards. It was UCD flanker Peader Timmins who created the first try of the day, breaking away from a string of tackles before offloading to the support. Centre Stephen Murphy the man who found a gap in the lapse Trinity defence to dive over and score. The game exploded after the early try, with both teams breaking back and forth up and down the pitch. Trinity took advantage of the scattered play, with Angus Llyod streaking down the pitch past the UCD chasers to score in the corner.
Trinity dominated the game for the rest of the first half, their physically big side relentlessly throwing themselves at the UCD sea of baby blue jerseys. Their direct runs found little gains in front of the Collidge defensive wall, but the Trin outhalf Tom Whittle kicked a penalty to stand the scores at Trinity – 10, UCD – 13. Collidge turned the screw on Trinity in the final minutes of the half; pressing the visitors back into their 22. The backline moved well and recycled the ball seamlessly to engineer a second trademark UCD try.
It was Trinity however who snatched the final try of the half. A wide move caught the Collidge backs out and let Trinity slip in the corner with a well finished try. The first half ended with UCD leading with 20 points to Trinity’s 15. Trinity played with more heart and effort, but Collidge took their chances clinically and had the edge in terms of quality.
The second half opened at a blistering pace with both sides going for eachothers throats.
The blood thirst and animosity between the old enemies was felt in the vicious battle at the breakdown. Two UCD players were sent to the sin bin in as many minutes; Donagh Lawler and Barry Daly both guilty of indiscipline. Trinity sensed an opportunity as UCD were left short on only 13 men to hold the line. But Collidge’s experience saw them keep out everything Trinity could muster in a huge defensive effort. Trinity’s backline failed to find the gaps, and two fantastic late UCD tackles from Coghlan-Murray and Adam Byrne denied almost sure tries. But Collidge’s colossal defensive masterclass was undone just minutes after their sin-binned men returned.
A lapse in concentration let Trinity twice break down the wing, with Jack Burke and winger Tim Maupin scoring a try apiece. Tommy Whittle knocked over both conversions to put Trinity firmly ahead at 29 points to UCD’s 20. Trinity began to out-muscle and besiege UCD, and the traveling Trinity fans confidently found their voice. Victory began to slip away from UCD as they were left on the back foot, 9 points down and 10 minutes to go.
Collidge sub Tom Fletcher started the comeback with a testing kick up the field, the ensuing wave of UCD players turned over the ball and then moved it through the hands. Trinity for a moment looked to have stifled Collidge’s attack. Until the gladiatorial powerhouse James Tracy got the ball and cleaved through the helpless Trinity defenders to crash over the line and score the crucial try.
The fantastic vocal crowd spurred on the Collidge players as they sought to snatch victory. The UCD machine drove into the Trinity half as the final minutes ticked away. Trinity halted the Collidge heave yards from their try-line, but UCD quickly flew the ball out wide through the backline. It came to substitute centre Conall Doherty, who surged through a gap in the Trinity line to score the winning try and send the Belfield Bowl into raptures of hysteria and cheers. Doherty also took the conversion, looping the ball beautifully between the posts from the left touchline to win UCD the game by 32 points to 29.
The spectacular finale to the fierce game was an apt conclusion to both teams strong seasons. UCD’s quality of play and attacking precision won out over Trinity’s effort and rough grit, and Collidge captain Emmet MacMahon rightly described the contest as an “unbelievable game of rugby”. The win saw UCD retain the student bragging rights over Dublin, and lift the Colours trophy to cap off a hard fought season on a deserved high note.
UCD RFC ………….. 32
Trinity DUFC ………. 29
15. Sam Coghlan-Murray
14. Adam Byrne
13. Harry McNulty
12. Stephen Murphy
11. Barry Daly
10. Liam Bourke
9. Bobby Holland
1. Gordon Frayne
2. James Tracy
3. Liam Hyland
4. Gavin Thornbury
5. Emmet MacMahon (c)
6. Peader Timmins
7. Daniel Leavy
8. Shane Grannell
Image Credit: @UCD Rugby Club