Cork Con complete fine comeback
Lansdowne 22 Cork Con 25:Cork Constitution’s remarkable capacity to snatch victory deep into injury time was again demonstrated against Ulster Bank League Division 1A leaders Lansdowne on the back pitch at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Behind 19-3 and 22-8 at various stages in the second half, there seemed no way Cork Con could win. Yet, somehow they turned the game around with two late converted tries and a dramatic match winning penalty from outhalf Johnny Holland in the fifth minute of injury time.
The only consolation for Lansdowne is that they are still top of the table.
At times they played some great rugby in what was a hugely entertaining encounter but they eventually lost out because of Cork Con’s capacity to make better use of their opportunities.
“We kept our heads. That’s the confidence the comes from having already won two games late on,” stressed Cork Con coach Brian Walsh.
No one kept his head better than Holland. Not only did he land the match winning 40 metre penalty but he also set up a try for centre Scott Deasy, and kicked a conversion from the touchline in the dramatic Cork Con comeback.
Lansdowne coach Mike Ruddock was left wondering how his side lost out. “We missed opportunities to put the game away but take nothing away from Con. They took their chances,” he reflected.
Earlier, the prolific Lansdowne wing Cian Aherne looked sure to be the match-winner. After trailing 3-0 to an early Holland penalty, Lansdowne took control with two tries from Aherne, either side of half-time, the second of which was a spectacular solo effort.
This brought his tally to five in the last two matches. With outhalf Craig Ronaldson adding three penalties, Lansdowne moved 19-3 in front.
Cork Con’s hopes weren’t helped by two sin-binnings but they hit back with a try from centre Niall O’Driscoll. Still, Lansdowne seemed to have matters well in hand when Ronaldson landed his fourth penalty to make it 22-8 with 13 minutes remaining.
But Cork Con regained their composure for Deasy to stun Lansdowne with two quick tries, both of which were converted by Holland. It brought the visitors level at 22-22.
Lansdowne, despite having a player in the sin-bin, could have regained the lead in the closing minutes. But Ronaldson’s long range penalty attempt drifted wide before Holland held his nerve to snatch victory for Cork Con with the last kick of the game.
His effort means that things have become very tight at the top of the table. Lansdowne are still a point in front of Garryowen but fourth placed Cork Con are now well in contention, just three points behind the leaders.
LANSDOWNE: R McCarron (capt); C Aherne, S Gahan, S Carey, F Horan; C Ronaldson, P O’Driscoll; J O’Connell, S Collins, R Liddington, M Feeley, W Earle, C Ross, C Butterworth, R Boucher. Replacements: T Moran, K Essex, M Walsh, C Toolan. CORK CONSTITUTION: D Lyons; R Clune, N O’Driscoll, S Deasy, C Quinn; J Holland, G Hurley; P Gavin, A Cudmore, John Ryan, B Hayes, P Donnellan, C O’Flaherty, B O’Hara, James Ryan. Replacements: C Desmond, B Vaughan, G Lawlor. Referee: M Patton.