Cork Constitution scored two extra-time tries to overcome a battling Lansdowne side in the AIB Cup's preliminary round, winning Saturday's end-to-end Temple Hill encounter 39-25.
AIB CUP PRELIMINARY ROUND: Saturday, November 25
CORK CONSTITUTION 39 LANSDOWNE 25, Temple Hill
Scorers: Cork Con: Tries: David O'Leary, Denis Hurley, Cronan Healy, Peter McKee, Frank Cogan; Cons: Richie Lane 3, Conor Quaid; Pen: Lane; Drop: Daragh Lyons
Lansdowne: Tries: Shane Whelan, Clem Casey, Neil Walsh; Cons: Robbie Dolan 2; Pen: Dolan; Drop: Mana Ashford
Con got their title defence off to a winning start in good conditions on Leeside, edging this eight-try thriller to set up a repeat of last season's final.
Brian Walsh's men booked their place in January's first round proper, where they will face St. Mary's College - the side they thumped 37-12 at Lansdowne Road last April.
This afternoon Con bagged five tries through wingers David O'Leary and Cronan Healy, full-back Denis Hurley, scrum half Peter McKee and inspirational number 8 and captain Frank Cogan.
Lansdowne, who led 25-18 until Healy's late leveller forced extra-time, tallied up three tries with scrum half Shane Whelan, centre Clem Casey and winger Neil Walsh getting off the mark.
The Dubliners led 8-7 at the interval thanks to Whelan's score and a well-struck penalty from the boot of full-back Robbie Dolan. Con's grasp on the cup seemed to be slipping when Casey bulldozed through for a 45th-minute try which Dolan converted.
But the hosts dug deep and hit Lansdowne for a quick 10 points - Richie Lane converted Hurley's try and kicked a penalty - while Whelan was in the sin-bin.
Daragh Lyons and Lansdowne's Kiwi recruit Mana Ashford then swapped drop goals as the game ebbed towards a nail-biting finish.
Walsh cut through to end a great back line move and send the visitors into a 25-20 lead, however Con scrapped for their lives and after eight furious phases, Healy was worked in at the corner to square the game up.
Lane missed what would have been the match-winning conversion, yet the super-fit champions came good in the second half of extra-time with both McKee and Cogan breaking through for converted tries.