Rockwell advanced to the quarter-finals of the Clayton Hotels Munster Schools Senior Cup with a four-try victory over Bandon Grammar School.
It was their second game in a row holding their opponents scoreless, after a 66-0 victory over High School Clonmel, to send Bandon, semi-finalists last year, out of the competition.
“We turned up. A lot of what we did was very, very good. Once we kept ball and got through phases, we looked quite good in attack so I was happy with our attack shape,” said coach Kevin Leamy.
“Our set-piece was hit and miss at times and it’s something we very badly need to do an awful lot of work on between here and two weeks’ time.
“But we’re building nicely. Obviously, Bandon are coming from difficult circumstances but we just needed to look after ourselves. The lads did that today and we got our rewards on the pitch.
The surface out here allows us to play and get into space and express ourselves. The lads have got, to a certain extent, that freedom to play and we saw probably the best of it out there today.
After a minute’s silence for former Bandon student Cameron Blair, who died tragically a fortnight ago, Rockwell scored with their first and last attacks of the opening half at Musgrave Park.
Pressure from Alan Flannery and John O’Sullivan forced Bandon into an early defensive lineout, Richard Anglim pounced on a loose throw and charged into the 22. From there, Rockwell let their backs loose, with Joshua O’Dwyer holding the last man and playing in Tom Tobin to touch down. A biting crossfield wind took O’Sullivan’s conversion attempt well wide.
It wasn’t for the lack of territory that Bandon were held scoreless, but a series of indiscretions that gave Rockwell easy outs.
Spilled balls and penalties in contact characterised their attack, while Rockwell showed a greater fluidity of offloading and quick ball going forward.
Their second try came in the 28th minute, after breaks from O’Dwyer and Sam Tarleton. Adam Maher drew a penalty before taking it through the phases, with Cathal Kelly burrowing over to finish. O’Sullivan’s sideline conversion carried just over into the wind. 12-0.
And in first-half injury time, Rockwell had their third try. Captain Flannery, Tarleton, and Peter Wall gained ground in a flowing move and when switched to the other flank, the Tipperary school had a 3-on-1, with O’Dwyer passing to Dean Fanning to score. O’Sullivan missed the kick.
They came for more right after the restart, with Joshua D’Alton sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on five metres out. Rockwell couldn’t capitalise on two close-range lineouts but from the subsequent scrum, they put the ball through the hands for Wall to score. O’Sullivan nailed another tricky kick.
Bandon’s best passage of play was to follow, keeping Rockwell pinned back for six minutes but impressive tackling kept them out.
Bandon ran their bench early and ran the ball from all parts of the pitch, too, in an attempt to get on the scoreboard. It made for an attractive second half, with Adam Murphy coming closest when he was denied by the linesman for a foot in touch before diving over.
However, it wasn’t to be as Rockwell defended their line to the end.
“It’s about attitude and work-rate in defence and having trust and that’s building,” said Leamy.
Look, if we can hold teams to zero every day we go out, we’ll have a good chance of winning the game.
L McCarthy; E Nash, N Greene, J D’Alton, D Collis; L Archer, J Kevane; C Coomey (capt), H Golden, B O’Donnell; J Walsh, DJ Bakker; I Akabogu, T Blennerhassett, A Murphy.
C Aherne, C Walton, J Coughlan, T Good, B McSweeney, C Bateman, D Hall, J Appelbe, N Burke, K Buttimer.
J O’Dwyer; P Wall, S Tarleton, A Flannery (capt), T Tobin; J O’Sullivan, A Maher; D Foley, D Fanning, M Burke; L Fogarty, B O’Dea; C Kelly, R Anglim, S Shine.
K Grogan, M Mulligan, M Bergin, D Achimugu, C Meaney, J Browne, J Heffernan, O Fagan, H Buttimer, R Wall.
K Barry (MAR).