Impressive Lansdowne surge 16 points clear at the top

Victory over Terenure makes it 12 victories in a row for Division 1A leaders

 Lansdowne’s Charlie Butterworth celebrates at the final whistle after victory over Terenure at Lakelands Park. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho

Lansdowne’s Charlie Butterworth celebrates at the final whistle after victory over Terenure at Lakelands Park. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho

 

Lansdowne have hit the two-thirds mark of the regular season with a perfect 12-out-of-12 record at the top of Ulster Bank League Division 1A, while Shannon’s lead at the summit has been cut to a single point in Division 1B.

With the three teams directly below them all losing, leaders Lansdowne grasped the opportunity to move 16 points clear as they came through a very tough test at Lakelands Park.

Tries from forwards Josh O’Rourke and Aaron Conneely steered them to a 12-8 win over third-placed Terenure College, who had led through a 21st-minute maul score from captain Robbie Smyth.

Barring a big collapse, Mike Ruddock’s men are cruising towards a home semi-final.

At the opposite end of the table, St Mary’s College climbed out of the bottom two with a terrific 18-16 defeat of defending champions Cork Constitution. Flying full-back Dave Fanagan starred with a brace of second-half tries.

Clontarf’s disappointing start to 2018 continued when they went down 25-16 to a fired-up Young Munster side on Castle Avenue’s 4G pitch. Tries from Gavin Coombes, Dan Goggin, who made a welcome return to league action after a knee injury, and captain Alan Kennedy helped the Cookies move back into the top half of the table.

UCD staved off a late revival from bottom side Buccaneers to end their four-match losing streak with a 17-14 success at Belfield. Forwards Alex Penny, Sean McNulty and Brian Cawley – one of College’s latest centurions – scored a try each for the students.

Closing penalties

Continuing his return from an Achilles injury, Ireland international Luke Marshall scored a crucial second-half try as Ballymena came from behind to beat Division 1B leaders Shannon 10-5 at home.

Second-placed Ballynahinch are now just a point behind the Limerick men after a 23-7 dismissal of UCC, during which Ulster ‘A’ regulars Zack McCall and Rory Butler both touched down.

Skipper Ian Porter landed two closing penalties to guide Banbridge to an 18-12 victory over Old Wesley, with centre Andrew Morrison’s first-half double taking his season’s haul to eight tries. Prop Mike Lynch’s 20th-minute try saw UL Bohemians win their Munster derby clash with Dolphin 7-3.

Meanwhile, outhalf Donal Crotty tallied up 13 points, including a 70th minute try, as Ashbourne successfully defended their Ulster Bank All-Ireland Junior Cup crown with a deserved 18-9 win over first-time finalists Kilfeacle & District at a rain-soaked Portlaoise RFC.

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