The Senior Rugby XV won the Leinster League Division 2A final on Wednesday, defeating Tullow Community School 28-10 at Old Belvedere. It was the first rugby trophy won by SCC since 2008. In a pulsating game of rugby, St. Columba’s withstood the early pressure and dominance from Tullow, to kick on in the second half and take the victory.
The opening ten minutes saw Tullow dominate possession and territory. St. Columba’s were defending well but eventually the pressure told and Tullow scored the opening try, which they duly converted and they lead 0-7. The restarted afforded SCC the chance to take the ball out of their half. A well struck restart was won back by SCC and they started to string some phases together. The pressure led to a series of penalties being awarded to St. Columba’s, with Henry Carroll slotting his second chance to bring the score to 3-7.
Tullow came back at SCC but some great work by the forwards and excellent drift defence meant they couldn’t make any further inroads. St. Columba’s came back though and team captain Douglas Boyd Crotty bamboozled the Tullow defence to race from his own half and touch down for a try. Henry Carroll failed to land the difficult conversion but SCC led 8-7. It soon became 11-7 as Henry slotted over a good penalty after Tullow failed to roll away. However, just before half time, Tullow also scored a penalty after some more good pressure – they were playing really well but the final pass wasn’t clicking for them at times or the scrambling defence of SCC were closing them down. At half time it was on a knife edge at 11-10 – SCC with the slimmest of leads.
Another excellent (unconverted) individual try from Aifo Ebeleghe – who had a fantastic game overall – pushed St. Columba’s out to 16 – 10. A six point lead makes coaches very nervous – the crowd weren’t too comfortable either. It seemed that St. Columba’s were lucky to be ahead – their line-out was having a bad day and a number of scrums were turned over – but in truth their defence was putting enormous pressure on Tullow and they continued to make mistakes inside the SCC 22. St. Columba’s made no such mistakes when the opportunities presented themselves and when Douglas Boyd Crotty cleaned up some loose ball, offloaded excellently to Ivan Moffitt, they made great progress up the right hand side. Max Hopkins then carried strongly, aided by his team mates behind him, then Seán Cooper fed Hector Wright. He brushed off a few weak tackles and went over for another excellent try – the nervousness fizzled out and was replaced by belief. Another missed conversion left the gap at 11 points but Tullow were a little rattled now and St. Columba’s couldn’t do any wrong. (See Hector’s Try by clicking on the link on the top right)
Tullow were reduced to 14 men after a late hit on Seán Cooper at the ruck and then Douglas Boyd Crotty put the game beyond all doubt with another brilliant individual try. A fantastic step off his left foot created the space in midfield to race over and dot down under the posts. Callum Pery Knox Gore added the easy conversion and now the sizeable Columban support could rest easy – the score 28-10. In the semi final Tullow had to overcome a 17 deficient to reach the final but in this game they were scoreless in the second half – a true testament to the defensive efforts of St. Columba’s.
The final whistle blew and the Old Belevedere pitch was covered in a sea of green and white. Well done to all involved, including the coaching team of Mr. Andrew Mitchel (Head Coach), Mike Elliot Murray, Graham Dean (Strength & Conditioning) and Paul Cron (Head of Rugby).