The famous Donnybrook Stadium in Dublin was the venue for the clash with Leinster Under18s. Conditions were dry and cool and the pitch in first class order. A large parochial crowd of Dublin locals had turned up to the match with expectations high for a good performance against the Australian Schools team.
The match started with great intensity from both teams and with the pressure mistakes were evident from both teams. Leinster enjoyed early field position and were rewarded with the first penalty in kicking range. Fly half, Sean Kerins kicked accurately to hand Leinster a lead by three much to the delight of the crowd.
Australia responded quickly settling into patterns of play that had Leinster under pressure. A terrific carry by hard working flanker Douglas MacMillan enabled quick front-foot ball to be released down the short side to Mitchell Third.
Third then threw a long pass to flying winger, Adrian Henley who outflanked his opposite number before passing back inside to Third who scored just left of the uprights. Third converted his own try and Australia lead 7 – 3.
The Australian Boys were making good ground once again from the restart through controlled phases of possession and the Leinster defense was once again under pressure.
Hard running Australian lock, Ned Hanigan, ran a beautiful unders line to slice through the Leinster forwards and race 40 metres downfield untouched to score out wide. Mitchell Third added the extras and Australia deservedly lead 14 -3 as half time was signaled.
Australia made some changes at the break as barnstorming open side flanker, Douglas MacMillan had succumbed to an ankle injury and was replaced. Tepai Moeroa and Ned Hanigan were rested for the second half and also replaced.
From the kick off, Leinster enjoyed a long period of possession on the back of uncharacteristic Australian errors. The Australian players were also on the back foot as infringements at the breakdown on several occasions cost the team penalties and the chance for Leinster to get back into the match.
Sean Kerins kicked a penalty goal to narrow the gap by 8 points. Not long after he scored a try himself after beating a rushed attempted tackle near the line failed and he touched down near the uprights. Once again he raised the flags and the pro Leinster crowd was very evident in the support of their team as the two teams were now separated by only 1 point.
From the kick off, the Australians continued to upset the referee and once again, Leinster gained good field position and Australian hooker Timote Tai was yellow carded for repeated infringements.
Leinster were now rolling with great confidence. They controlled the ball very well in the forwards and were rewarded with a try to lock, James Ryan. Sean Kerins kicked the conversion and Leinster had regained the lead 20 -14.
The Australian Boys lifted from the restart and finally achieved field good field position in the second half. With Australia close to scoring a try, Leinster infringed at the breakdown and a penalty was awarded to the visiting side.
Captain James Tuttle ordered the kick to be taken and replacement fly half, Andrew Deegan kicked the goal to reduce Leinster’s lead by 3 points.
With Timote Tai returning to the field for Australia, Leinster applied great pressure on the Australian defense and looked certain to score on a couple of occasions but they were thwarted by good scrambling Australian defense.
Australia returned fire but it was Leinster who had the final say in the outcome of the match with a well- deserved try to their hard working number 8, Nick Timoney.
Kerins added the extras and Leinster had remarkably scored 24 second half points to steal the match form Australia.
Australian Schools v Leinster Under 18s
Wednesday 11th December 2013
Leinster Under 18s, 27 (Tries: Sean Kerins, James Ryan, Nick Timoney, Penalty Goals: Sean Kerins (2), Conversions: Sean Kerins (3)) defeated Macquarie Bank Australian Schools, 17 (Tries: Mitchell Third, Ned Hanigan, Penalty Goals: Andrew Deegan, Conversions: Mitchell Third (2))