Newbridge College 48 -
Wesley College 0
THEIR supporters were singing in jest but it turned out they were right to be jubilant before the game had even begun. Once Newbridge crossed the line for their opening try in the 24th minute, Wesley might has well given up as the ‘Bridge supporters had suggested during the warm-up – ‘Wesley give it up, give it up, Wesley give it up, NA-NA NA-NA-NA-NA…’
Schools Cup rugby games are notable for their brash and enthusiastic crew of supporters but even the megaphone chorus on the sideline were subdued in comparison to their schoolmates on the field.
Having picked up two tries in the first half while playing against a gale in Westmanstown, a 17-0 lead was even more emphatic than the scoreline suggested. Outhalf Tim Berney was leading a back five that threatened every time they got ball in hand. The talented number ten orchestrated affairs with an assured and confident display that meant Wesley were always on the back foot.
As comfortable carrying across the line as he was cutting through any gaps, Berney’s unpredictable game kept his opponent’s guessing and that created space for the rest of the backs to do damage. The forwards were just as, if not more effective, for Newbridge and both of their first half tries came courtesy of their big men – flanker Colm Stapleton and second row Mike Joyce crossing the whitewash.
An early penalty from winger Gavin Burke settled Newbridge after just three minutes and although Wesley enjoyed decent field position throughout the half, their lineout was single-handedly being destroyed by Stapleton. He touched down for the game’s first try after poaching a Wesley line-out just outside the Newbridge 22 and there was just no stopping him as cruised through the opponent’s half, covering more than half the field before he touched down under the posts.
A second try, which seemed inevitable after Stapleton had made the first breach, came on the stroke of half-time when Joyce got over as Newbridge were camped on the Wesley line – the attack again initiated by Stapleton stealing another Wesley lineout.
Two successful conversions from Burke put Newbridge in the driving seat, 17-0, at the break.
The hard work was certainly complete having racked up a sizeable lead against the elements but the winners weren’t thinking of easing off when the game resumed. Berney made a brilliant break down the blindside and might have crossed himself but sensibly drew the last defender before off-loading to Burke for a simple try under the sticks. That score, just 44 seconds after the restart, ensured whatever resistance Wesley had left was well and truly destroyed.
Berney was involved again as a clever move in midfield put Dylan Walker through for try number four and the outhalf eventually got over the line himself in the 46th minute but by then the game was well and truly finished as a contest.
Winger Burke completed a brilliant afternoon with his second try in the 48th minute with a work of individual brilliance. His grubber kick behind the Wesley defence left them flat-footed and Burke accelerated clear to pick up a few metres from the line and safely cross for Newbridge’s seventh try of the game. That score completed an impressive 21-point haul for the Newbridge winger.
Replacement Luke Morris kicked the final conversion for the winners as the ‘Bridge romped home to a 48-point victory in front of a huge travelling army of supporters – the team forming a guard of honour at the finish to applaud them off the pitch.
Next up for the ‘Bridge is a quarter-final date against St Gerards on 26 February.
NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE (1-15): Jordan Duggan, Daniel Murphy, Tom O’Neill; Mike Joyce (try), Geoff Flanagan, Thomas Flynn (try); Colm Stapleton (try), Dylan Walker (try); Timmy Murphy, Tom Berney (try); Gavin Burke (2 tries, 4 cons, 1 pen), David Murphy, Johnny Deane, Niall Wyer, Ruairi Cleary. Replacements: Kevin Kyne for Stapleton, 46; Luke Morris (conv) for Berney, 46; Colin Phelan for Flanagan, 51; Mike Higgins for Stapleton, 48; David Breen for Joyce, 51; Colm Doyle for Cleary, 51; Cian Lavelle-Walsh for O’Neill, 55; Ciaran Fletchmore for Duggan, 55.
REF: Colm Roche (ARLB)