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Dublin: 11 °C Saturday 23 February, 2019
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Belvo building up a head of steam as defending champions power into last four

The Leinster Senior Schools Cup quarter-finals continued at Donnybrook this afternoon.

Belvo's James Murphy in action.
Belvo's James Murphy in action.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Belvedere College 23

Newbridge College 7

Ryan Bailey reports from Donnybrook

THE THREE-IN-A ROW bid is building momentum, and as has been the case for the last number of years in this competition, Belvedere College are again emerging as the team to beat.

They needed a strong second-half display to eventually see off Newbridge College but once Phil Werahiko’s side began to flex their considerable muscle, there was only ever going to be one winner.

In what was a scrappy contest, Belvo displayed all their credentials by striking at key moments. Neil Howard crashed over just before the interval to break the deadlock and although the 12-time winners were pegged back by the concession of an intercept try not long after, they pulled clear in the final quarter.

Prop James Gleeson finished off a powerful rolling maul in the far corner and after fullback David Lacey had knocked over two penalties, centre Matthew Grogan completed the win with a fine individual score at the death.

Even without their talismanic out-half David Hawkshaw, who had his right shoulder heavily strapped as he acted as water carrier, this Belvo side have big players all over the field, no more so than captain Ruadhan Byron.

Newbridge landed a couple of blows of their own, and in Cian Prendergast have a supremely-talented lock, but having expended huge energy in keeping the game scoreless until the 35th minute, were unable to match Belvo’s relentless energy and power.

The first period was played at a high-tempo, but poor handling skills let both sides down and neither were able to land a punch until the final minute of the half when replacement lock Howard crashed over for Belvo.

Jamie O'Grady is tackled by Con Creedon Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

On the balance of play, Newbridge were unfortunate to go in behind at the break, particularly when they thought Luke Rigney had muscled his way over after a period of sustained, and controlled, pressure.

As the powerful prop, whose departure through injury shortly into the second half proved crucial, held off three would-be tacklers and stretched for the line, referee Gary Conway adjudged the grounding to be fractionally short, although TV replays suggested it was a harsh call.

Belvo struck at the other end.

Newbridge will have been disappointed with a sloppy exit after initially shutting the door and from there Belvo worked it in-field and their superior power up front told as Howard eventually found a gap from close range.

The defending champions enjoyed the majority of the possession and territory after the interval, too, but were caught when Ted Walsh’s attempt to go down the short side was read by Donal Conroy, who had the footwork to evade the last man back and then race clear uncontested. Luke Maloney converted for a 7-5 lead.

Behind on the scoreboard, Belvo’s dominance grew.

They hammered away relentlessly for large periods, often to no avail, but all the while the defensive effort was sapping the life out of Newbridge, who then had nothing left to give with the contest in the balance.

Alistair Loughrey is tackled by Thomas Grant Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

The boot of Lacey, a minor footballer with Dublin, nudged them back in front after Newbridge were caught offside and the lead was extended when Gleeson scored in the far corner after Byron had made the initial surge.

Lacey added another penalty to ensure Belvo’s safe passage through to the last four, and the icing on the cake arrived courtesy of Grogan’s slalom score as the centre carved through midfield to dive under the posts.

Belvedere scorers:
Tries: Neil Howard, James Gleeson, Matthew Grogan
Penalties: David Lacey [2 from 2]
Conversions: David Lacey [1 from 3]Newbridge scorers:

Tries: Donal Conroy
Conversions: Luke Maloney [1 from 1]

BELVEDERE COLLEGE: 15. David Lacey, 14. Alex O’Grady, 13. Matthew Grogan, 12. Cailean Mulvaney, 11. Alistair Loughrey, 10. Justin Leonard, 9. Ted Walsh; 1. James Gleeson, 2. Luke Harmon, 3. Conor Cagney, 4. Alekseiy Soroka, 5. James Murphy, 6. Gerard Hill, 7. Aaron Coleman, 8. Ruadhan Byron (captain).

Replacements: 16. Andrew Synnott, 17. Jonathan Bell, 18. Mark Daly, 19. Neil Howard, 20. Cian Scott, 21. Patrick Lysaght, 22. John Meagher, 23. Gareth O’Brien.

NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE: 15. Donal Conroy, 14. Con Creedon, 13. Karmon Fitzgerald, 12. Eimhin Conroy, 11. Daniel O’Connor, 10. Luke Maloney, 9. Jack Doyle; 1. Thomas Grant, 2. Larry Kelly, 3. Luke Rigney, 4. Dylan Morrissey, 5. Cian Prendergast (captain), 6. Oisin Halpin, 7. Harry O’Neill, 8. Muiris Clearly.

Replacements: 16. Geoff McNelis, 17. Robert Scully, 18. Mark Moynihan, 19. Conor McGroary, 20. Ruairi Finan, 21. Sam Cahill, 22. Thomas Sheedy, 23. Daniel Caulfield.

Referee: Gary Conway.

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Ryan Bailey

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