Once again, Constitution were unable to stay in front after building up a lead of 14 points, but they had a real share of misfortune when referee Peter Fitzgibbon called Ned Hodson back for a knock on, after the centre had ‘scored’ what surely looked a late match-winning try.
Hodson was deemed to have knocked on even though just about everyone in the ground, including UCD mentors, believed he had juggled the ball - but hadn’t lost possession - before racing unopposed to the line.
That incident just about summed up Con’s luck this season, beaten by a point away to Galwegians, by a last minute score to Garryowen and then reeled in at home for draws by both champions Lansdowne and now UCD.
The students created some excellent try scoring opportunities in two dominant first half spells and it was to Constitution’s credit that they held out with some hugely effective defence close to their line to maintain a 16-5 lead at the break. Although he bemoaned those missed chances, UCD director of rugby Bobby Byrne declared himself happy with the draw. “We had four or five opportunities to score although, in fairness, the Con defence was exceptional. They were very aggressive but we felt we should have still finished off one or two of those opportunities. But they had that scoring opportunity late on too when there was a knock on called which was dubious.
“It was a funny type of game that could have gone either way. A draw was probably a fair result.”
Constitution skipper James Ryan expressed disappointment however, knowing that a 19-5 lead entering the final quarter should have been enough to see them home. “We had the scores but made a few mistakes again, it was pretty much like the Lansdowne game that we let slip. It was heartbreaking stuff in a sense. The last ten minutes of the first half was fantastic, our defence was rock solid and it was a great boost not to concede a score going into the break. The couple of mistakes cost us though; in a sense it feels like defeat but the upside is that we can take a lot from it, two points, still unbeaten at home, I know only draws, but we’re coming slowly but surely.”
Constitution were boosted by a try inside the opening minute from Darren Sweetnam that Tomas Quinlan converted, and the out half knocked over three penalties before the break and another afterwards before UCD’s fourth quarter rally yielded a penalty try, another from Nick McCarthy and two conversions from substitute Liam Bourke.
D Lyons, D Sweetnam, N Hodson, N Kenneally, R Jermyn, T Quinlan, R Foley, B Quinlan, M Abbott, R Burke, B Hayes, C Kindregan, G Lawlor, J Ryan, J Murphy.
Rolling replacements. L O’Connor, G Sweeney, L Cahill, C O’Flaherty, L O’Connell.
J Power, T Fletcher, J Glynn, C Doherty, B Daly, B Holland, N McCarthy, A Porter, S McNulty, L Hyland, G Thornbury, E MacMahon, S Grannell, P Timmins, M McGroarty.
Rolling replacements. G Frayne, M Moynihan, B Cawley, L Bourke, R Keenan.
Referee. P Fitzgibbon (IRFU)