Newbridge College 26 Gonzaga College 24

Cael Chanders was the hero of the hour with a last-minute try, converted by Mark Young, to snatch the Leinster Rugby Junior League from Gonzaga at Energia Park yesterday.

In the early going, their centre Lucas Berti-Newman bamboozled Gonzaga with his footwork before a left-handed offload enabled midfield partner Calum Corcoran to find the line, and full-back Young converted in the first minute.

Gonzaga came right back with a swift attack that drew two penalties, both of which were dispatched to the corner flag in pursuit of five points.

The second was taken in by lock Luke O’Callaghan for the pack to drive over with hooker Tim Cotter claiming the try in the fifth minute.

It looked like the battle lines had been drawn between Newbridge’s three-quarters and the ‘Zaga forward eight.

The Sandford Road school were relentless in their go forward forcing Newbridge’s Young into a try-saving tackle on Charlie Thomson which just delayed the inevitable breakthrough from number eight Noah Maguire for out-half David Colbert to make it 12-7 in the 17th minute.

The flow of the game revealed how every time one school scored, the other rebounded with intensity.

This time, Gonzaga looked more solid across the line in dealing with runners.

The trickery of Newbridge scrum-half Tadhg Brophy and Berti-Newman forced a five-metre scrum, number eight Kieran Kelly being held up by the Gonzaga back row for a turnover.

They had a shot at three points for a high tackle on Berti-Newman, captain Kelly opting for the scrum which came to nothing on the half-time whistle.

Gonzaga got the scoreboard separation they were after when swinging the ball right and left for centre Hugh Goddard to split the defence for 17-7 in the 34th minute.

The flashes of excellence from the Kildare boys reappeared with centre Corcoran and Young setting up left wing Harry Farrell for a muscular finish on the left.

The ball was back in the hands of Berti-Newman soon enough and Gonzaga had to be alert to deal with his evasion, even around the fringes.

There seemed to be less space to operate in as players tired and Gonzaga centre Hugo Neville had the answer for that with a powerful burst through the cover for a try converted by Colbert for a double-scores advantage.

This didn’t prevent Newbridge from rolling forward, centre Corcoran punching a big hole and captain Kelly twisting for a try which was converted by Young in the 54th minute.

The excitement grew all the way to the end as Berti-Newman threatened, Kelly carried and Cael Chanders finally, grounded the ball at the butt of the left post.

It was left to Young to convert in the last act of a most dramatic final.

Scorers: Newbridge College – (C Corcoran, H Farrell, K Kelly, C Chanders try each; M Young 3 cons); Gonzaga College – (N Maguire, T Cotter, H Goddard, H Neville try each; D Colbert 2 cons).

Gonzaga: Hugo McLaughlin; Stephen Higgins, Hugo Neville, Hugh Goddard, Charlie Thomson; David Colbert, Charlie Breslin; Tomás Noone, Tim Cotter (Toby Hammond 46), George Morris (Patrick O’Brien 59), James McCarthy, Luke O’Callaghan, Darragh Geraghty, Paul Wilson, Noah Maguire (capt).

Newbridge: Mark Young; David Grant (Patrick Gaire 54), Calum Corcoran, Lucas Berti Newman, Harry Farrell; Robert Dillon (John Collins 54), Tadhg Brophy; Finn Mahon, Tom Waters (Samuel Fitzgibbon 35), Harry Rigney (Max Barry 57), Denis Dowling, Cael Chanders, Patrick Stapleton, Ruairí Byrne, Kieran Kelly (capt).

Referee: R O’Flynn, Leinster Branch.