|30 January 2023||3:00 pm||Leinster Schools Senior Cup||2022/23|
Blackrock College open Leinster cup campaign with dominant win
Blackrock College’s 70th title defence got off to the perfect start with an extremely dominant 49-5 victory over Presentation College Bray this afternoon.
The champions scored seven tries on the day to lay down an early tournament marker.
They flexed their muscled and asserted their power. All of their tries coming from the forward pack.
Pres Bray played to the final whistle, leaving it all out on the pitch. Flanker Zack Kirby getting their only try of the game in what was a very difficult day.
Blackrock College are one of the most feared beasts in schools rugby and a performance like today shows exactly why.
It’s no secret that when the cup draw is being made, all the schools hold their breath in the hope that they don’t get Blackrock College in their opening game. The record 70 times champions were without a doubt strong favourite heading into this game and probably for the competition itself, with five starters from the 2022 final.
Although, there has been a quiet optimism around this Pres Bray outfit. Many supporters consider them the best team they have had in a long time. Irish schoolboys Jack Murphy and Finn Treacy lead their very exciting attack. It was always going to be a tall order but, if the Bray boys were ever to pull off the ultimate upset, today was the time to do it.
It was clear from the first whistle that emotions were high. Blackrock’s inside centre Mark Walsh received a yellow card for a late hit on Murphy after only a couple of minutes of play.
Despite being down to 14 men, Rock responded in true Rock fashion. They worked their way into the danger zone through some big carries up the middle of park while also using the backs in the wider channels. Once they got closer to the line, they kept it simple, opting for pick and goes. After a few attempts the big loosehead prop Tom O’Riordan powered over for the opening score of the contest.
A few minutes later, their pack were in amongst it again. A well-drilled maul, earned the vital yards before the awaiting Tom Brigg barrelled over the line to get try number two. Oliver Coffey added the extras for both tries.
On the 20-minute mark, things went from bad to worse for Pres. A big carry from backrow Conor Tonge got his team motoring deep inside opposition territory. Composed in attack, the ball was simply played through the hands, finishing in a try for the hooker Mikey Yarr.
It was a difficult half for Maurice Logue’s charges, but they managed to get off the mark in the 28th minute. Flanker Zack Kirby touched down from close range.
However, Pres’s hard work was undone when a clever restart got the boys in blue and white on the front foot again. Their forwards did the business again before tighthead prop Alex Mullan put his name on the try-scorers list. Coffey’s success from the kicking tee continued. Rock led 28-5 at the halftime break.
At the start of the second half, Justin Vanstone’s troops had one foot firmly in the quarter-finals. Playing against the win in the second half Pres had to keep the ball in hand.
The Wicklow school’s woes continued when talisman Murphy was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knockdown. With the numerical advantage, Rock kept their opponents pinned a few metres short of their own scoring zone.
A big Brigg carry off the base of the scrum got them on the doorstep of the try line before Mullan smashed over for his second try of the day.
Not long after that try, Mullan’s prop partner Riordan secured his brace. Scrum-half Coffey was flawless from the tee, kicking six conversions. The last try of the game came from an intercept by second-row Michael Colreavy. Harry Whelan who was a late call-up to the starting team made sure of the full seven points.
To their credit, Pres never gave up despite the difficult deficit. We saw in glimpses how good they can be in attack through Murphy and Treacy linkups. Substitute Odhran Meade made a good impact off the bench also.
On the day they just came up against a strong, powerful and well-drilled side. Despite some players leaving, they look like a team that is just picking up from where they left off in last year’s cup winning campaign. One thing is for sure, they will be a force to be reckoned with again.
|Energia Park, Donnybrook Road, Pembroke West B ED, Dublin, County Dublin, Leinster, D04 T8X2, Ireland|