St Mary's College maintain title challenge

St Mary’s College 31 Blackrock College 13

St Mary’s College 31 Blackrock College 13

First-half tries from captain Matt D'Arcy and Darren Hudson set St Mary's College on the right path this afternoon as they beat Blackrock College to move joint-top with Clontarf in Ulster Bank League Division 1A.

It has been a tough week for Blackrock following the midweek resignation of their player-coach, former Leinster and Ireland star Eric Miller, with Ben Mannion taking over for the remainder of the season.

Here at Templeville Road, they were put under pressure in the opening moments of the game by a St Mary's side that was determined to keep their title challenge alive.

Blackrock put up a stern resistance for a while, but they were helpless to prevent the hosts getting through for their first try 10 minutes in.

An excellent break by Marcus O'Driscoll put scrum half D'Arcy over for a routine score, which was converted with ease by full-back Gavin Dunne.

This was just reward for the way that Peter Smyth's charges had started the contest, and their cushion was increased to 14 points just five minutes later.

Dunne added the extras to an expertly-finished try by right winger Hudson. St. Mary's were simply rampant at this stage, but Blackrock managed to settle down eventually and a close-in penalty from out-half Rob Keogh opened their account in the 19th minute.

St Mary's dominated for the remainder of the first half, however their momentum did drop somewhat following injuries to second row pair Gareth Logan and Stephen Bradshaw, and an excellent injury-time drop goal from Keogh which brought the margin down to 14-6 just in time for the interval.

That meant that the Templeogue men still had plenty of work to do on the resumption, but 'Rock's hand was weakened by the 43rd minute sin-binning of Leinster centre Brendan Macken.

St Mary's took advantage with a penalty five minutes later from Dunne, before the impressive D'Arcy sent winger Conor Hogan through for a try in the left corner after 57 minutes.

Smyth's side looked home and hosed at this juncture, but Blackrock had other ideas as flanker Richard Liddy crossed the whitewash for the visitors' only try just three minutes later, with the accurate Keogh adding a simple conversion.

It made for a nervous few moments for St Mary's until a late second try from Hogan ensured a bonus point return for the high-flying hosts.

Scorers:

St Mary’s College: Tries: Matt D’Arcy, Darren Hudson, Conor Hogan 2; Cons: Gavin Dunne 3, Ray Crotty; Pen: Gavin Dunne

Blackrock College: Try: Richard Liddy; Pen: Rob Keogh; Drop: Rob Keogh

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