Yesterday’s semi-final at Thomond Park yielded no surprises, although Pres had to shake off a strong challenge from a brave Crescent side.
Crescent earned respect however, with Sean Monaghan leading from the front and Jack Donovan, Jack Dinneen and Padric Ryan giving as good as they got, while Larry Hanley at out half and Diarmaid Dee always looked good outside.
Ultimately, however, Pres had too much power up front and just about too much pace in the backs, with captain Ryan Murphy, Jack Duffy, Paul Derham and John Fitzgerald the pick of the pack and Seamus Glynn, Steve Dinan and Ross Caplice the best of a fairly high quality back division.
Pres took a second minute lead with a penalty from Dinan but despite holding most of the possession and territory they found themselves adrift to a 12th minute Crescent try. It came when a Pres defender knocked on and Larry Hanley sent flanker Padric Ryan racing away for the score very much against the run of play.
Order might have been restored four minutes later only for Dinan’s second penalty attempt to come back off an upright and a subsequent Pres attack ended when they lost possession going forward near the Crescent line.
Crescent upped their challenge after that and made Pres struggle for every inch of ground; in fact, if anything the balance of power was going their way before the disastrous concession of a late try.
Pres won a line out off a penalty and their maul was powerful as they drove forward, with second row Derham the last one to handle and the one to raise his hands triumphantly in recognition of a touch down. Dinan converted brilliantly from the touch line to give his side a 10-6 advantage at the interval and they never looked back.
They embellished that lead with a second try of high quality five minutes into the second half; after winning a line out, Rory Scannell, Seamus Glynn and Dinan all contributed before Ross Caplice was sent in for an unconverted score.
The Cork side sealed victory with a third try on 63 minutes, Scannell diving in after Eamonn Mills’ neat chip through the Crescent defence, but the visitors could have done without a yellow card shown to prop forward Killian Kingston in a ruck offence immediately afterwards.
From that point they wered forced to defend and it was no surprise when Crescent’s impressive out half Hanley weaved his way through the defence for a try that he converted himself.
Unfortunately, the score came much too late to make a difference and as Pres emptied their bench they also found new reserves of stamina to launch a last attack that yielded a penalty attempt to Dinan, who made no mistake to widen the winning margin to 11 points.
Rockwell may not be so accommodating in the final, and Pres coach Peter Scott conceded: “Yeah, they will be tough, they’re the favourites and it’s their third final in succession but this team won’t be shirking away from any challenge put in their way.
“We need to improve, we’ve got to get rid of the anxiety which tends to blend into our play at times, we can play but you have to earn the space first and our job (coaches) is to get them to be a bit more patient and build the phases; the space will come because we have the guys to finish it off.”
CRESCENT: B Murphy, P O’Sullivan, D Dee, G. Barry, C Buckley, L Hanley, M Darcy, C O’Connor, R Kavanagh, N Horan, S Stanley, J Dinneen, S Monaghan (captain), J Donovan, P Ryan.
Replacements: S Gleeson for O’Connor, B McSweeney for Stanley (both 56).
PBC: S. Glynn, S Dinan, R Scannell, R Caplice, J Kiernan, E Mills, C Bannon, B Scott, W Murphy, K Kingston, P. Derham, J Fitzgerald, A Hudson, R Murphy (captain), J Duffy.
Replacements: B Fitzgerald for Hudson (60), D Horgan for J Fitzgerald (68), D Keohane for Foley, D Horgan for Kingston (63), A Slattery for Duffy, D Evans for Bannon, I O’Donoghue for Caplice (all 66)
Referee: T Collins (M.A.R).