Rockwell College secured a fourth-place finish in Group A of the Munster Senior Schools Cup with a hard-earned victory away to Bandon Grammar School on Wednesday.
An early try from Ronan O’Connor - converted by Clement McAuliffe - in the first half followed by a penalty try in the second period was enough to see Rockwell edge a bruising battle with Bandon in trying conditions.
But the victory in this the last fixture of the Group stages wasn’t enough to see the school climb up to third as they failed to secure the bonus point they needed while their opponents from Cork, whose try came from Marcus Kelly, finished bottom.
The rain and the heavy surface didn’t cater to fast, free-flowing rugby throughout the game although both sides rose above that in the opening exchanges in Bandon.
After a prolonged period of pressure inside the first few minutes, Rockwell opened the scoring in the third minute when Ronan O’Connor powered over the line with Clement McAuliffe adding the extras from a difficult position.
But Grammar, to their credit, produced the perfect response to that early setback as they grabbed a try in the sixth minute in very similar circumstances with their own number two Marcus Kelly doing the honours.
Peter Symington was given the responsibility to split the uprights with the conversion but unlike his opposite number, he was unable to do so. 7-5.
But the match soon turned into a scrappy affair with both defences dominating.
Bandon Grammar School looked certain to take the lead midway through the half but they just failed to break through their rivals’ stubborn rearguard at the line.
Rockwell thought they had snatched their second try of the afternoon when Kian O’Reilly touched down behind the goal but the referee quickly signaled for an infringement and awarded Bandon a penalty.
The home side needed their number eight Shadrach Nnamani to produce a sensational last-ditch tackle to prevent the College from extending their lead before the half time break.
They were then boosted by Jack Ryan being shown a yellow card right at the end of the first half meaning Bandon would begin the second period with a man extra.
But they couldn’t make the most of that advantage and it was the visitors who would add to their tally not long after the restart when the official awarded them a penalty try, 14-5.
Rockwell College were soon restored to the full complement of players but they knew they needed two more tries and a result elsewhere to go in their favour if they were to sneak into third place in Group A and secure an easier game in the next stage of the competition in the new year.
But a mixture of the pitch understandably becoming worse, both teams making changes, and both physios becoming busier, the closing stages of this contest lacked momentum as Rockwell were forced to settle for a nine-point triumph.
R O’Connor and Penalty try.
B Spearman, A Hutchinson, A O’Reilly, P Symington, R Kingston, R O’Brien, P Gaffney; K O’Regan, M Kelly, C O’Sullivan, R O’Callaghan, L Prior, C Miskella, J Connolly, S Nnamani.
Replacements: N Miskella, T O’Conchuir.
C Neville, M Lambe, Z O’Loughlin, C McAuliffe, S Leahy, K O’Reilly, R Kelly; C Caroll, R O’Connor, A Wall, C Bowen, T O’Dea, R Kerry, A Harold Barry, J Ryan.
W Bermingham, D Burns, M Attard, R Powell, J Finn, L O’Connor.