Round-up – Metro Cup quarter-finals
March 28, 2022 3:14 pm Site Editor
The Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Metropolitan Cup quarter-finals produced two one-score winners on Sunday as Suttonans and Clontarf got the better of MU Barnhall and St Mary’s College, respectively.
They move on to play each other in the semi-final on April 10.
The remaining two quarter-finals will take place in the next eight days as Terenure College host Lansdowne next Sunday (KO 3pm) and holders Dublin University travel to Old Belvedere on Tuesday evening, April 5 (KO 8pm).
Suttonians 22 MU Barnhall 19
Suttonians were pushed all the way to the end by MU Barnhall in a pulsating quarter-final on a very warm afternoon at the JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds.
The conditions made this a true test of fitness and stamina, the Leixlip club getting out to a solid start as their forwards, led by veteran prop Dan Jennings, made headway early and often.
They established position on the field and were content with taking the penalties that came their way, Mick Byrne slotting shots for a 6-0 lead.
The expansive nature of Suttonians’ style of play came to life, breaking out of defence and looking to width before centre Conor Jennings exploited a hole for the try.
This was fine by Barnhall. They regrouped and rebooted their forward game with openside Tom Keane leading the way.
Still, it was the individual brilliance of Conor Neville that caught out Suttonians, the scrum-half shooting 60 metres down the blindside from a scrum for his first try.
Centre Paddy Duggan was a thorn in the side of the home club and Barnhall’s Byrne notched a third penalty for 14-5 in the 32nd minute.
But, that wily Suttonians operator Dave Traynor bided his time on the heels of his forwards, sniping through a gap from the 22 to make it 14-10 at the break.
The opportunism of Neville was on show again when snatching up a loose ball to accelerate away for his second touchdown and a 19-10 two-score lead.
The home side needed a spark and they found it from a sensational try by speedster Ronan Patterson.
He spotted space on the outside, cut inside a defender and then had enough gas in the tank to round the last man back, Jennings converting to make it a two-point game.
It was far from a definitive turning of the tide. The visitors came again, going close to adding to the advantage, getting over the line without getting the ball down.
A combination of their own errors and staunch Suttonians defence kept it to two points as Aziz Naser and Thomas Culleton carried the home side out of trouble.
In fact, second-row Culleton eventually proved a difference-maker in galloping upfield to put them on the front-foot.
Once in business, the collective came together in a cohesive attack that culminated in No 8 Chris O’Brien breaching the defence for 22-19 in the 74th minute.
Suttonians had the lead for the first time. They were made to protect it as Barnhall came thundering forward to draw a late penalty.
The decision was taken to pursue the knockout blow through a five-metre lineout rather than the tying score from a difficult angle.
Byrne angled the ball to touch for a prime attacking option only for the throw to go astray to signal the end of a stirring contest.
Clontarf 25 St Mary’s College 24
Frankie O’Dea was the man of the moment in landing a last-minute penalty to see Clontarf through to the semi-final at Castle Avenue.
St Mary’s would have left the northside with a ‘should-have, would-have’ feeling as they had more than enough opportunities to take the plaudits.
The game plan would probably not have included leaving loosehead prop Kealan Quinn on the touchline to gather Aaron O’Neill’s bouncing crossfield kick.
Yet, the front row forward made little fuss of being in unfamiliar territory to gobble up the ball and score in the fifth minute.
Clontarf’s Alvin Amanianpong really caught the eye all game long, his lung-bursting break and offload clearing the path for Dominick Damianov to score, O’Dea converting.
The Clontarf forwards were able to construct a powerful maul for hooker David Lambe to rise from the cluster of bodies with the ball for their second try.
Two yellow cards in quick succession for Amanianpong slapping down the ball and for Carlos Alexis Manzano failing to release in the tackle put ‘Tarf in a perilous position.
St Mary’s tighthead Podge Dundon, their captain, was able to make them pay with a pick-and-go that cracked Clontarf on the fringes, reducing the deficit to 12-10 at the break.
The St Mary’s back-rowers Conor Corcoran and Joe Nolan were having an impact and a high tackle by Mateo Cardiff was reason enough to award a penalty try for 17-12 in the 50th minute.
Fly-half O’Dea was able to turn Clontarf pressure into three points before St Mary’s centre Max Svedjar squeezed over at the posts, O’Neill converting for 24-15 in the third quarter.
It was a two-score game until centre Theo Connolly, in his third position of the afternoon, moved into open country, the offload taken home by Manzano for O’Dea to convert in the 69th minute.
St Mary’s were looking the more likely from a scrum just outside the 22 when ‘Tarf summoned up the reserves of energy to force two consecutive penalties.
When a drop goal did not do the trick, O’Dea was on target from 40 metres out to seal the semi-final place.