Last year’s finalist Gonzaga just about made it into the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup final in a classic at Energia Park on Tuesday afternoon.

A rematch from the League final provided both sets of coaches with plenty of research into how best to proceed.

Gonzaga started out by closing the space around Ciaran Mangan and Todd Lawlor before unleashing their tempo, Paddy Martin executing a turnover and clearance to keep the Kildare boys safe.

Newbridge had a fast and loose energy to them, premeditated on light-touch regulation of structure.

The problem was where the action was happening, mostly inside their half, Hugo McLaughlin making a break and forcing the defence into miraculous work in twice holding the ball up over their own line.

Then, Newbridge struck, like a bolt of lightning Paddy Taylor swept inside the defence to feed Ciaran Mangan for a beautifully crafted try converted by Taylor in the 10th minute.

The next time out-half Martin looked to spin the ball, Aidan O’Flanagan stepped into an interception near halfway for Stephen McMahon to level it up in the 14th minute.

It was Champagne rugby on tap as Mangan’s sleight of hand enabled Lawlor to speed in behind, ducking and diving to the line for Taylor to kick the extras.

The angles of running from Newbridge were bordering on mesmerising, Tadhg Brophy shooting into midfield where McLaughlin was able to bring down Mangan in a one-on-one, a Taylor penalty soon missing to the right.

Gonzaga had to change the pace of the game, plumbing the lineout and maul to swing penalties and position, leading to a yellow card for prop Billy Bohan in the 28th minute.

A 5-metre scrum was the platform from which number eight Paul Wilson, lurking as the first receiver, powered through a tackle for McMahon to make it all-square again.

The Sandford Road school was seizing on mistakes, going to the lineout again, McLaughlin darting forward before not releasing in the tackle.

McLaughlin carved an opening on the inside to go close at the posts and, from the ensuing scrum, the ball was whipped right where hooker Luke McLaughlin grounded, McMahon’s slotting the conversion for 21-14 at the break.

The intention to play was there on both sides, from Mikey Wall in green and Adam Larkin-Smithers in black and white.

An incision by O’Flanagan was all ‘Zaga needed given McLaughlin was on his shoulder to take the ball home, McMahon’s conversion making it double-scores 28-14 in the 42nd minute.

Then, John Walsh was binned for an indiscretion and Gonzaga rolled forward for Wall to threaten on the left.

A penalty advantage meant they could come back for the lineout and maul that delivered a second try for Luke McLaughlin.

Newbridge quickly hunted a reaction, Smithers-Larkin tackled into touch by Wall and outstanding captain Shane Treacy charging on.

They were twice within inches at the posts before going wide for Lawlor to go over for 33-19 in the 57th minute.

The work of Shane Davitt and Daniel Cox was good for turnovers and prop Billy Bohan’s dummy set-up an attack which Taylor was able to turn into a try.

They just kept coming, Davitt and Mark Masterson motoring through contact and lock Davitt coming again to crash over for Taylor to make it a two-point game.

And that was it.

Scorers: Gonzaga – L McLaughlin 2 tries; A O’Flanagan, P Wilson, H McLaughlin try each; S McMahon 4 cons. Newbridge – T Lawlor 2 tries; P Taylor try, 3 cons; C Mangan, S Davitt try each.

Gonzaga – Hugo McLaughlin; JP Breslin, Aidan O’Flanagan, Jody Browne, Mikey Wall; Stephen McMahon, Tom Brophy (James O’Dwyer 59); Finn O’Neill, Luke McLaughlin, Adam McVerry (Jamie Sheil 59), Jamie Kennedy, Tom Wyley, Charlie Kennedy, Gavin O’Grady (Jack Kelly 60), Paul Wilson (Capt).

Newbridge College – Todd Lawlor; Rory Allen (Daniel Connolly 46), Ciarán Mangan, Paddy Taylor, Adam Larkin Smithers; Paddy Martin (Hugo Owens 46), Tadhg Brophy; John R Walsh (Charlie O’Loughlin 69), Mark Masterson (Josh Montgomery 70), Billy Bohan, Shane Davitt, Shane Treacy (Capt), John Sheedy  (Sam O’Loughlin 27, temp; Jack Dennis 68), Ronan McGroary (Daniel Cox 42), Ruairi Munnelly.

Referee – A Cole, Leinster Branch.