We seem to have developed a penchant for mad periods of extra time. Unlike normal however today’s cannot be placed solely at the feet of the referee, after 5 minutes we probably came to last play but what followed was a further 6 minute period where the ball just would not go dead for the home side, without any guarantee of the game being over even if it did.
On their very first trip to Kilballyowen, UCD arrived on the back of a big loss to local club Thomond last week, and looked to gain revenge.
UCD opened the scoring after 15 minutes with Niall Earls slotting over his first penalty of the match giving the visitors a 3 point advantage which they managed to hold most of the way through the first half. With the momentum of the game swaying over and back between the two sides, neither seemed to be able to gain advantage, both defences winning the day. UCD spectacularly failed to make any major use of the strong breeze blowing right from their backs, despite some nice kicking from the hand by out-half Earls and a lot of fancy footwork from their fit back line.
Finally right on the stroke of half time, after a period where Bruff seemed to camp inside the UCD half, line-outs, scrums and relief for the students seemed to happen again and again until after another Bruff scrum, captain Brian Cahill made a lovely crossfield break from just inside the UCD 22 finishing with an inside pop just as he was tackled to allow Centre Garry Leonard to go over five meters left of the posts. Brian then calmly slotted the relatively easy conversion and despite a last rally from the students during the four and a half minutes of injury time played in the first half, Bruff went into the break on the better side of the 7-3 scoreline.
With the wind dropping just before the break, the advantage of the changeover lessened but Bruff continued their momentum and four minutes in Bruff winger Nigel Riordan completed the roll with a try, duly converted by Cahill to put a little daylight between the sides. Bruff looked to be secure and comfortable but the students refused to roll over and on the 50 minute mark, Earls slotted over penalty number two to begin the claw back into the match. Five minutes later, kick number three and the students looked to be on a rampage. On 59 minutes,he slotted number four and all of a sudden the game changed.
The Bruff defence rallied and the pack, dominating the scrum again all day, began to make ground in the loose and with the maul. Decisions against them at the breakdown cost them dearly in the students twenty-two on occasion and with the students willing to run from anywhere, the rallying cry of “Turn attack into defence” rang out from their Backs coach Killian Keane. Some good field possession inside the twenty-two and some nice field gains ended up being returned with interest.
All seemed lost a few minutes from time, when the UCD winger broke from inside his own half, romping home from seventy meters or so. He seemed set to close out the game but the home team were saved by a brilliant diving tackle from center Andrew Cashman who came from the middle of the field to tackle him into touch only five meters from the line. With the many home supporters breathing slightly easier, the Bruff defence took up the challenge and worked their way out again. Injury time at this stage and the students would have fired the DANKE into it if they were allowed to bring it on the field but time after time the Bruff defence held on, hit after hit, managing not to give away a penalty although it would likely have been spurned by the students as they went all out for the win. A yellow card reduced Bruff to fourteen men but five minutes in we thought it was surely all over, but no-one told College. They recycled, attack after attack being matched only by a last gasp defence of the home team reminiscent of Custer at the Alamo, with the large home crowd praying for a different outcome.
Finally fifty minutes from the start of the second half, seemingly out of nowhere the siege was broken and the students heart with it when Bruff full back Patrick Thompson latched onto a spilled ball with a sweet scoop pickup and galloped home from just inside his own half, touching down under the posts to deny the students their losing bonus point. Captain Cahill slotted over his easiest kick of the day to give a final scoreline of 24 points to twelve.
Bruff slot nicely into 6th place on the League Table, score difference separating ourselves, DLSP, Bective and Corinthians on 13 league points. Harlequins have 14, Thomond lie in second place on 16 after their 26 all draw against Highfield and Lansdowne continue their massive start to this years campaign with another away win, beating Terenure 22-3.
Three wins out of four outings, we have a two-week break when we then face Belfast Harlequins away on the 14th of November.