Comfortable win for St Mary's
St Mary's College 24 Shannon 12, Templeville Road
In spite of a late fightback from Shannon, St. Mary's College came away with a comfortable victory at Templeville Road which keeps their hopes of winning this year's Division 1 title very much alive.
Today's bonus point win means that St. Mary's are only second to Clontarf on scoring difference with five games left to play and with Young Munster also challenging for the crown, it should make for a very interesting end to the domestic
The home side had started the game in confident mood, and were putting on real pressure towards the Shannon posts.
The Limerick side managed to weather this early storm, however, and looked set to open the scoring ten minutes in as they drove at the opposing defence, but St. Mary's managed to turn the possession in their favour just in time to keep Shannon at bay.
Stephen Keogh's men continued to cause St. Mary's problems in the scrum and lineout, but the Dubliners eventually gained control of the proceedings once more.
Good work towards the Shannon line yielded a try for scrum half Matt D'Arcy in the right corner after 22 minutes, with winger Ray Crotty adding the conversion.
Shannon did their level best to try and force their way back into the contest before the break, but the wind advantage that St. Mary's had at their disposal was beginning to pay dividends.
It seemed inevitable that the Templeogue men would add to their advantage before too long, and their second try followed in the 32nd minute.
Excellent approach play from Stephen Grissing and Marcus O'Driscoll paved the way for Crotty to get through in the corner. The pacy winger was unsuccessful with the conversion this time.
But Shannon out-half Tadhg Bennett was similarly off target with his stoppage time penalty, which meant that St. Mary's held onto their 12-0 advantage heading into the second half.
The St. Mary's dominance would continue after the restart, and despite commendable early resistance from Shannon, they were powerless to stop second row Damian Hall from getting in under the posts 12 minutes into the half.
Crotty was on hand to easily convert this score, and the hosts would secure a much-desired bonus point just five minutes later, as O'Driscoll grounded the ball to the right of the posts for an unconverted try.
As the game entered into the final 20 minutes of play, St. Mary's started to unload their replacements bench, which meant that they took their foot off the gas to a certain degree.
This enabled Shannon to come into the game during the final quarter. Lively replacement James Murphy played a vital role by first opening the Shannon scoring with a 75th minute try converted by Bennett.
Murphy then put winger Conor Cunnane through for a try with a minute of normal time remaining. This put some respectability on the scoreboard, but there was never any doubt about the winners in the end.
Scorers: St. Mary's College: Tries: Matt D'Arcy, Damian Hall, Marcus O'Driscoll, Ray Crotty; Cons: Ray Crotty 2
Shannon: Tries: Conor Cunnane, James Murphy; Con: Tadhg Bennett
HT: St. Mary's College 12 Shannon 0