Ulster Bank League round-up: Having struggled past Old Belvedere last week, Division 1A leaders Lansdowne were back at full tilt today as they ran in five tries without reply to beat defending champions Clontarf 35-0 at Castle Avenue.
First-half touchdowns from Scott Deasy, Tom Farrell and Cian Kelleher created the platform for this comprehensive triumph. Young centre Farrell was in sublime form as Mike Ruddock's men recorded their seventh league victory in succession.
Clontarf had impressed in the previous round at home to St Mary’s College, so this resounding defeat to one of their title rivals will come as a big setback in their quest for a play-off position.
With the breeze at their backs in the first half, Lansdowne were determined to issue a strong statement of intent. Clontarf were missing a number of first choice players, including Mick McGrath who has returned to the Leinster set-up, and just two minutes in their hand was weakened even further.
'Tarf winger Ariel Robles and flanker Adrian D'Arcy both had to leave the pitch through injury and despite missing an early effort at goal, Lansdowne outhalf Deasy opened the scoring from a 10th-minute penalty.
He made it 6-0 five minutes later, with the strong wind making it difficult for Clontarf to gain a foothold in the Lansdowne half and they regularly found themselves on the back foot.
The north Dubliners defended well as a unit in the first quarter, but their try-line was breached by Lansdowne on 24 minutes. Scrumhalf Adam Griggs was the orchestrator of the move, and his neat kick forward was grounded by halfback partner Deasy in the left corner.
Lansdowne's second try came 10 minutes later when Farrell profited from excellent approach work by Tom Daly to touch down on the left hand side.
’Tarf finally showed some attacking intent just before the break but after the powerful Farrell embarked on a memorable solo run, Lansdowne fullback Kelleher was in the right place to claim another converted score. With a 23-0 buffer, the visitors looked certain to register their 10th win of the league campaign.
Yet, a Clontarf comeback could not be ruled out and replacement Daniel Hanratty almost crossed over on the left flank 10 minutes into the second period. Lansdowne forced him into touch on this occasion, and strong defensive work was required to prevent Matt D'Arcy and Anthony McGivney from breaking through just shy of the hour mark.
However, in spite of some admirable endeavours, ’Tarf simply could not breach the stern Lansdowne defence and it was left to Ruddock’s charges to get the scoreboard moving again.
Tyrone Moran and Farrell made significant gains inside the 'Tarf half after 69 minutes and when Ian Fitzpatrick was held up just shy of the line, Farrell was on hand to secure a bonus-point score for his side.
Clontarf had been reduced to 14 men courtesy of Tom Byrne's sin-binning by this stage and following another incisive attacking move, lock Brian Moylett added a fifth try to bring the curtain down on an outstanding Lansdowne performance.
Ballynahinch are now just one point outside of the top four after fullback Adam Craig helped himself to a hat-trick of tries in their 34-13 bonus-point success against Cork Constitution.
Ballymacarn Park is a real fortress for 'Hinch these days and having trailed 13-10 at the break, with Gerry Hurley dotting down for Con, Derek Suffern's side went on to dominate the second half as they ended the Leesiders' sixth-match unbeaten run.
While Craig showed himself to be an ace finisher, winger Ross Adair also scored his sixth try of the campaign for 'Hinch. The back-three were actually responsible for all of the hosts' points as goal-kicking winger Chris Quinn converted all four tries and kicked two penalties.
Munster's Rory Scannell was in fine form for Dolphin as the division's bottom side surprised play-off hopefuls UCD with a 32-15 defeat down in Cork. Steve Ford's men are really turning their season around – this was their first bonus point win of the season and comes on the back of last week's hard-earned triumph over Young Munster.
Peter McCabe and Donagh Lawler exchanged tries in the first half and the students were very much in contention, just three points down (13-10) entering the closing quarter.
However, outhalf Scannell boosted Dolphin’s hopes with a well-taken try which he converted himself. He followed up with an intercept effort to make it 27-10 and also added the extras to Dave Byrne’s bonus point score with four minutes left.
Old Belvedere's eighth losing bonus point in as many defeats will be of little consolation to them after they were edged out 13-9 by St Mary's College at Templeville Road.
Two Josh Glynn had 'Belvo leading 6-0 at the interval, but Mary's, who sit in ninth place just below their visitors, turned things around in the second half with departing outhalf Gavin Dunne playing a crucial role.
Brian McGovern came off the bench to score a converted try, cutting the gap to 9-7, and Corkman Dunne kicked them to a hard-earned victory courtesy of a cracking drop goal and a follow-up penalty.
Meanwhile, second-placed Terenure College got back to winning ways and also picked up a bonus point in their tight 22-21 defeat of hosts Young Munster at Tom Clifford Park.
Although they squandered an early nine-point advantage, Munsters were still leading 21-17 in the 59th minute following two tries from hooker Ger Slattery.
However, 'Nure, who had led 17-9 at the break, were determined not to draw a second-half blank. They clinched the result when winger Harry Moore scored his seventh try of the campaign, using his impressive pace to reach a kick ahead and dot down.