UCD earned the college bragging rights last Friday, beating Trinity in the Belfield Bowl in the annual rugby colours cup match. The UCD side, nicknamed ‘Collidge’, racked up four tries and 32 points to Trinity’s (Dublin University FC) points tally of 19.
- UCD RFC 32
- DUFC 19
Collidge’s superior athleticism and clinical attacking prowess were too much for the traveling Trinity side, whose traditional physical and power heavy style of play was exposed by UCD’s pace. The Belfield side drew the first blood early on in the game with Andrew Porter scoring a try. The powerful forward managed to power over the Trinity line, whose stocky defence should have done more to stop UCD taking an early lead. The UCD fullback Ciaran Frawley was taking the place kicks for the home side, and converted the try well to give UCD a 7 to nil lead in the early minutes.
It didn’t take long for the animosity and tension of the fierce rivalry to boil over into off the ball aggression, a series of tussles and pushing broke out near the sideline amongst both teams. Referee Kieran Barry marshalled the disputes well however, stamping out the off the ball pushing without having to resort to sin binning players from either side. UCD added a penalty kick in the meantime to bring their tally to ten points, the kick was well taken and placed between the upright posts from a difficult angle out wide.
Trinity struck back on the thirty-minute mark with a try of their own. Winger Bryan Mollen managed to find a series of gaps in the Collidge defence after a quick string of passes down the backline that disorganised UCD’s tacklers. Mollen’s pace impressively wrought its way past the scrambling UCD tacklers along the touchline to slip in at the corner for a good try. Mollen was the man tasked with taking Trinity’s place kicks and adding the two points to his own try, which he did to put the score at UCD 10, Trinity 7.
DUFC kicked on from their try, emboldened by their score. Trinity found a rare energy in their legs to constantly rush UCD’s line as they tried to get into a passing rhythm. The high pressing phase left UCD having to kick to clear pressure from their own ’22 in many cases. The positive and impressive period of play from Trinity was undone by a moment of typical UCD attacking magic. Trinity had begun to turn the key on UCD physically, bogging the game down in an arm wrestle between the two packs around the halfway line. Collidge managed to steal a rare turnover from Trinity’s ruck and UCD scrumhalf Nick Peters moved the ball out wide where Trinity were more exposed. High flier UCD winger Tommy O’Brien caught a pass around the halfway line, before rushing into open space. A handful of scrambling Trinity backs looked to surround O’Brien and surely bring him down, but the skilful Collidge winger spun out of reaching Trinity tackles and raced around the danger. Out pacing the chasing tacklers and surging into the Trinity ’22 he was faced with the Trinity full back, who again looked sure to bring down the UCD winger. But O’Brien found a bit of magic in his deft boots, chipping the ball neatly over the onrushing full back leaving the tackler haplessly stranded. O’Brien powered around the back peddling full back to surge onto his chip, collecting it as it bounced and diving over the line for a fantastic showman’s try for UCD. Frawley added the easy conversion to set UCD up at 17 points to Trinity’s 7 heading in at half time.
A handful of scrambling Trinity backs looked to surround O’Brien and surely bring him down, but the skilful Collidge winger spun out of reaching Trinity tackles and raced around the danger
From the outset of the second half Trinity tried to muscle their way back into the game. Utilising their strong build side to throw a string of heaves at UCD. The direct crash ball game was absorbed well by the disciplined UCD defence, whose line of baby blue shirts dealt well with the charges without conceding any easy penalties.
The Belfield Bowl was packed for the annual Colours rivalry, with both UCD and Trinity support pumping up the atmosphere of the night. Ten minutes into the second half Trinity’s best chance to claw their way back into the contest came from an overthrown lineout. The ensuing confusion of the overshot throw in saw Trinity react first and capitalise on UCD disorganisation. A string a quick passes moved the ball through the DUFC hands and across the pitch, as Collidge were back peddling to try and set up a coherent line of defence. Trinity should have found one of the many gaps in the panicked UCD line, but just when they looked to have orchestrated a certain checkmate overlap to get in for a try, a wayward pass was knocked on and killed the attack. The poorly executed pass surely let UCD off what looked like the prelude to a definite try.
Trinity’s disappointment was compounded by a quick UCD recovery that lead to a third try. Winger Barry Daly for UCD found himself clear after a breakaway against the run of play. Daly picked up an offload in Trinity’s half with nothing but clear green ahead of him, the UCD regular on the wing of recent years put his pace to good use and sped away from any last ditch tacklers. Daly coasted in under the posts for a try that punched Trinity’s momentum in the gut. The conversion was struck well from kicker Frawley, but despite having the distance it drifted wide and glanced off the upright post wide. Trinity faced a steep uphill battle with the score set at 22 to 7.
As the contest wore on Trinity struggled to keep up with the fitness and pace of the Belfield side. Collidge’s athleticism saw them hurt Trinity as the game wore on, making it difficult for the visiting side to push into UCD’s half and try find a much needed try. UCD captain and centre Jamie Glynn had a solid game in the middle of the backline, making a series of good runs and tackles. The Collidge side never really managed to get their free flowing passing game going, opting more to absorb and sap Trinity’s energy in a well-controlled tight contest at the breakdown, and then launch dangerous counter attacks that tried to stretch and find holes in Trinity’s defence out wide.
Bryan Mollen nearly gave Trinity a road to start a comeback sixty minutes into the game, the winger found some space down one of the touchlines and nearly squeezed past the last UCD tacklers. But in the end he was caught fifteen yards from the try line. Mollen didn’t manage to beat the UCD last tackler on his own, and in the absence of a supporting runner the danger was snuffed out by the home side.
The game hung around inside UCD’s 22 for much of the final quarter. Trinity contested a series of scrums, which UCD looked initially to be able to fend off and hold their own in. But UCD increasing tried to bring the scrum down or were turned upwards by the heavy DUFC pack. Following a final collapsed scrum on UCD’s five meter line the referee had no choice but to award Trinity a deserved penalty try. The Trinity kicker easily tapped over the conversion in front of the posts to set the score at UCD – 22, Trinity – 14.
The penalty try electrified the final fifteen minutes of the game, with Trinity then just eight points behind UCD, who looked increasingly nervous compared to their composed demeanour of just ten minutes beforehand. DUFC were rejuvenated after the try, and tore into UCD from the restart. An easy penalty allowed Trinity fullback Colm Hogan to mount the pressure on Collidge with a well-placed kick to touch into UCD’s corner. Trinity won the ensuing lineout to set in motion a wave of crunching charges at UCD’s try line. Collidge battened down and hatches and staved off every vicious heave at their try line, pushing Trinity back and allowing them no inch. Lack of clinical execution was again the Northside team’s undoing, the ball spilled loose from a Trinity player’s hands after a tackle to give UCD a chance to clear the ball from their 22.
Trinity substitute Michael Silvester hit back with a shock try that left UCD just a whisker ahead on 22 points to Trinity’s 19. Silvester found joy down the left wing and managed to evade all of UCD’s diving tackles to surge over the line to bring the difference to just three points in the final ten minutes.
The Collidge side would not be beaten on home soil however, number 8 for UCD Peadar Timmins overturned a Trinity maul, before taking the ball himself and charging through a series of Trinity white shirts to ripe into the old enemy’s territory. UCD brought the game to Trinity’s try line as the final five minutes began to elapse. DUFC were left 80 yards from where they needed to be, and fending off controlled UCD forward’s charges at their line rather than threatening to score themselves. The break came as UCD sucked most of Trinity into the close quarters battle on the try line, the ball was quickly shifted out wide through the backs, where UCD had a two-man overlap. Winger Tommy O’Brien was the man to kill of Trinity’s hopes of a last ditch comeback, gliding around the Trinity line to touch down for a decisive try. The conversion was added and then another penalty shortly after to bring UCD’s haul to 32 points, to Trinity’s 19. The game finished and UCD hoisted the Colours cup after the well-played and entertaining game of rugby. The match means UCD have done the double over Trinity this season, beating them in earlier in the League in September. Collidge now sit in fifth place out of ten in the Ulster Bank League on 43 points, ten behind leaders Lansdowne. Trinity slip into ninth place and relegation playoff danger on 35 points.
UCD’s next and last game of the season will come away against Dublin side Clontarf on Saturday April 15th.
Jack Power Editor