UCD take advantage as Terenure slide continues
Lansdowne go top of Division 1A after beating St Mary’s
Fergal Walsh of Terenure is tackled by the UCD duo of Emmet McMahon and Ross Byrne during the Ulster Bank League Division 1A match at Lakelands Park. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Ulster Bank League Division 1A round-up: Terenure College’s mid-season slump continued at Lakelands Park on Saturday as they were outgunned 33-24 by UCD in an eight-try thriller.
Previously unbeaten Terenure have now lost three of their last four Division 1A games, their latest reversal seeing UCD avenge last month’s 26-17 defeat at Belfield.
The Bobby Byrne-coached students should have won that match and were clearly determined not to blow a second winning position when holding a 23-17 interval lead at Lakelands.
The difference this time was the composure shown by young halfbacks Ross Byrne and Nick McCarthy and an athletic pack that included the Leinster-capped trio of James Tracy, Jordan Coghlan and Josh van der Flier.
But successive sin-binnings for flanker Robert Duke (24 minutes) and scrumhalf Kevin O’Neill (27) knocked the home side off their stride, allowing UCD to dictate much of the play in the second quarter.
The students took full advantage with three unconverted tries in a nine-minute spell approaching half-time – the in-form Sam Coghlan Murray and Shane Grannell (two) both touched down to secure a first-half bonus point.
’Nure hung in there, though. Mark O’Neill converted a late penalty try to close the gap to six points at the break and give James Blaney’s men a timely boost.
UCD wrestled back control in the crucial third quarter as outhalf Byrne landed the first of two penalty attempts and Coghlan came off the bench to score try number five for the visitors, with 23 minutes remaining.
Terenure lock Fergal Walsh dotted down in the 76th minute, with Mark O’Neill converting, to reduce the arrears to nine points but UCD were not to be denied a well-merited away win.
With Terenure slipping up, Lansdowne are the new leaders after coming from behind to beat St Mary’s College 16-10 on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch.
Mike Ruddock’s charges, who trailed 10-3 at half-time, knuckled down in the second half as tries from winger John Coleman and replacement prop Peter Dooley saw them claim their fifth league triumph on the trot.
Meanwhile, a late surge saw defending champions Clontarf get back to winning ways with a 24-21 victory over hosts Old Belvedere at Anglesea Road.
A try from Leinster winger Mick McGrath, coupled with a Matt D’Arcy effort five minutes from time, made the difference for the north Dubliners who had lost four of their previous five league games.
’Tarf looked closer to their 2013/14 vintage with the returning McGrath and Max McFarland featuring in the back-three alongside McGrath’s brother Rob. McFarland made a slashing 50-metre break to set up centre D’Arcy for the opening try inside five minutes.
David Joyce converted before Old Belvedere had a couple of near misses, including two off-target penalties from Leinster’s Steve Crosbie, and although ’Tarf failed to capitalise on a D’Arcy-led attack, Joyce nailed a penalty on the half hour to make it 10-0.
’Belvo exerted plenty of pressure on the resumption, with Daniel Riordan twice kicking penalties to touch, and both Kieran O’Gorman and Riordan went close to scoring tries from close range.
Finally, Old Belvedere’s efforts paid off when their excellent scrum drove ’Tarf backwards to their try-line and captain Jonathan Slattery pounced for a 51st-minute try which Crosbie converted.
Paul Cunningham’s side hit the front just 10 minutes later when the ball was spread wide on the left and a kick through was gathered by Ireland under-20 centre Peter Robb for a second converted try.
Clontarf roared back with a strong run from centre Michael Brown. Then, from an attacking scrum, they moved the ball at pace to both wings and on the right, Mick McGrath swerved inside the ’Belvo cover for a well-taken seven-pointer and a 17-14 lead.
This exciting, fast-paced encounter took another twist when ’Belvo used their lineout platform to press for try number three and it arrived when replacement scrumhalf Charlie Rock moved the ball wide and fullback Riordan, faced with a two-on-one opportunity, scored with a neat step inside. Crosbie split the posts again for a 21-17 scoreline.
However, that good work was undone when the ’Belvo defence opened up for the impressive D’Arcy to charge in by the posts for his fifth try of the league campaign. Joyce added the extras to give the visitors a three-point advantage.
There was yet more drama when ’Tarf flanker Adrian D’Arcy was sin-binned for infringing close to his own posts. ’Belvo went for broke in search of a bonus point match-winning try, opting for a five-metre scrum. But their frontrow was penalised and ’Tarf prevailed by a narrow margin.
Ballynahinch, the newly-crowned Ulster Senior Cup champions, continued their very good winter form by scoring 27 unanswered points in the second half of their 30-6 home defeat of Young Munster.
Munsters held a 6-3 half-time lead at Ballymacarn Park thanks to two Gearoid Lyons penalty, however ’Hinch went up through the gears with three tries over the closing 25 minutes.