Both Garryowen, gaining revenge on Belfast Harlequins for last season's semi-final defeat, and Lansdowne, at Ballymena, picked up encouraging away wins on Division One's opening afternoon.
There was joy too for Blackrock College's new coaching trio of Dave Dillon, Barry Gibney and Emmet Farrell as tries in each half from Stephen Baker and Diarmuid Laffin helped the Stradbrook men to a 15-6 victory at Galwegians.
AIB LEAGUE DIVISION ONE: Saturday, October 15
Belfast Harlequins 13 Garryowen 30, Deramore Park
Scorers: Harlequins: Try: Reece Spee; Con: Michael Glancy; Pens: Glancy 2
Garryowen: Tries: Paul Devlin, Adam O'Loughlin, Kevin Hartigan; Cons: Conan Doyle 3; Pens: Doyle 3
Andy Ward's first league game as Harlequins coach ended in a disappointing defeat as handling errors and a number of costly turnovers handed Garryowen the spoils.
The Limerick side's last league visit to Deramore Park saw 'Quins score eight tries in a 50-17 thrashing, but Paul Cunningham's men came prepared this time around. An early penalty from Conan Doyle was added to on 18 minutes when home scrum half Reece Spee had his clearance kick charged down and Munster back Paul Devlin gathered in the loose ball to race to the home line and score.
Doyle converted for 10-0 and then tagged on a penalty after 'Quins were whistled up for blocking, seven minutes later. Fly half Michael Glancy did slot a subsequent penalty for 'Quins, but a stunning burst of 10 points for the visitors in a five-minute period just before the interval all but confirmed the destination of the spoils.
A lightning break by full back Andrew Finn set up right winger Adam O'Loughlin for Garryowen's second try, which was converted by Munster Under-21 Doyle and he added another penalty for good measure.
23-3 in front, Garryowen, playing against the wind, had an early chance to score in the second half but fluffed it and 'Quins, through another Glancy penalty, soon replied. On 54 minutes, Garryowen's third try was to come - turnover ball saw centre Kevin Hartigan sent clean through and in between the posts for Doyle to easily convert.
Garryowen did lose hooker Damien Varley to a yellow card but it made little difference as all 'Quins could muster in the closing quarter was an injury-time try from Spee, which was converted by Glancy.
HARLEQUINS: J Lowe; J McClaughlin, D Cave, M McKeever, P McKenzie; M Glancy, R Spee; C Keown (Capt), S Philpott, R Moore, G Rourke, M Willis, R Devonshire, A Ward, D Dougherty.
GARRYOWEN: A Finn; A O'Loughlin, K Hartigan, P Devlin, Ciaran O'Boyle; C Doyle, Cillian O'Boyle (M Fitzgerald 75); R Callaghan, D Varley (P Humphreys 65), M Palaamo ( R Brosnan 60), F McKenna (D Sheehan 70), J O'Sullivan, P Neville, P Malone (E Mackessy 75), A Kavanagh.
Referee: David Keane (IRFU); Sin-bin: Damien Varley (Garryowen)
Ballymena 17 Lansdowne 33, Eaton Park
Scorers: Ballymena: Tries: Simon Shawe, Henry Head, Adam Larkin; Con: Larkin
Lansdowne: Tries: David Lavin, Brendan McGeever, Greg Stafford; Cons: Corey Burt 3; Pens: Burt 4
Former Wellington Colt Corey Burt had a telling contribution to make at Etaon Park on Saturday as he steered Lansdowne to an excellent three-try success over the Braidmen.
The 27-year-old Kiwi fly half topped off his 18-point contribution with an injury-time penalty to help the headquarters gain revenge on Ballymena for last season's 45-5 league defeat.
Steph Nel's Ballymena side, who started with back row Michael McComish as an inside centre, simply failed to turn up, especially in the second half.
The Blacks started well and were 10-3 up thanks to tries from Simon Shaw (9 minutes) and Henry Head (16). Burt had kicked Lansdowne into a fifth-minute lead with the first of his four penalties, and he played a central role in the visitors' first try.
Linking play up down the right wing, Burt put flanker David Lavin over in the corner and landed the conversion himself for 10-10. On 27 minutes, a sizzling openfield break by Lansdowne full back Fiachra Baynes, who was returning a kick from his possite number Andrew Spence, carved open the Ballymena rearguard. Baynes straightened his line of running to offload for winger Brendan McGeever to make it in at the left corner. Burt converted for a 17-10 half-time lead.
Two penalties from Burt inside the second half's first nine minutes extended Lansdowne's advantage, although a yellow card for hooker Kevin Corrigan forced the Dubliners to work a little harder than expected at 23-10 in front.
A third try duly came their way when centre Greg Stafford, who is a member of this season's Leinster 'A' squad, gleefully scored a 56th-minute intercept try. Ulster fly half Adam Larkin mustered a consolation try, which he himself converted, but the final word was to man of the match Burt who kicked his fourth penalty from 30 metres out.
BALLYMENA: A Spence; P Rogers, S Stewart, M McComish, C Smith; A Larkin, D O'Hara (B Clements 70); N McKernan (A Kirkpatrick 62), I Campbell (R Kernaghan 62), S Shawe, R Young, H Head (I Caldwell 62) A Graham, J Taggart, B Hughes.
LANSDOWNE: F Baynes; N Walsh, G Stafford, K Kennedy, B McGeever; C Burt, S Whelan; J Lynn, K Corrigan, E Bohan, D Toner, S O'Connor, D Lavin (D Upton 75), N Ronan, R Boucher (G O'Meara 68).
Referee: Ger English (IRFU); Sin-bin: Kevin Corrigan (Lansdowne)
Galwegians 6 Blackrock College 15, Crowley Park
Scorers: Galwegians: Pens: John Cleary 2
Blackrock: Tries: Stephen Baker, Diarmuid Laffin; Con: Paddy O'Toole; Pen: O'Toole
Two ex-Galwegians came back to haunt their former club at Crowley Park on Saturday as Blackrock College earned a valuable away win over the Tribesmen.
Blackrock half-backs Mike Roche and Paddy O'Toole, both formerly of 'Wegians, played starring roles in the Dubliners' two-try success.
John Cleary landed two penalties on 14 and 26 minutes for 'Wegians, who are coached this season by former Newport Gwent Dragons hooker Paul Young, for an early lead. But 'Rock snapped back for an 8-6 half-time advantage.
First, winger Stephen Baker crossed the whitewash on 29 minutes for the game's opening try after a well set-up ruck, and ten minutes later, a penalty from fly half O'Toole nudged the capital side in front.
That was O'Toole's first success from three kicks.
'Wegians hooker Conor Muldoon, who was playing a leading role for the home side, had a try-scoring effort ruled out for a forward pass and was unfortunately injured five minutes into the second half.
A yellow card for centre John Culkin did little to help Young's charges in their comeback bid and a 60th-minute breakaway try scored by 'Rock flanker Diarmuid Laffin, converted by O'Toole, stung the hosts at just the right time.
GALWEGIANS: J Cleary; J McDonagh, J Culkin, H Murphy, B Bartley; P Durkin, P Phelan; D O'Brien, C Muldoon (C Robinson 45), R Davies, L Scahill, D Boyd, A Conboy, S Miller (B McClearn 59), I Muldoon.
BLACKROCK COLLEGE: A Henry (P Graham 80+2); A Pinto, F Carr, S Morrissey, S Baker; P O'Toole, M Roche; C Murphy, C Gee, M Cuffe, M Legge, O Cullen, D Dillon, D Laffin, E Manawaiti.
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (IRFU); Sin-bin: John Culkin (Galwegians)