10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
In Castle Avenue league leaders Clontarf, having played into a strong wind in the opening half, led 10-3 at the break thanks to tries from David Moore in the fourth minute and a second from Ollie Winchester following a clever chip through by Niall O'Brien. It was a lead that the home side thoroughly deserved as they dominated that opening half for long periods thanks to a well marshalled pack in which Bernard Jackman, Ben Gissing and Declan Quinn were prominent.
If Clontarf held the upper-hand in the first half, then Buccaneers did similarly in the second but their discipline let them down and they played twenty minutes of that half with fourteen men. Eoin Brennan was the first to go into the bin for a silly stamp on the foot of replacement Andy Dunne and moments after he had returned, Rowen Frost received his marching orders after touch-judge Des Woods adjudged him to have used the boot recklessly.
Lee Turner had reduced the deficit with a 61st minute penalty but the match winning try came when a Buccaneers attack broke down on the Tarf 22 and O'Brien kicked downfield and outpaced everyone to get the vital touchdown. Daire O'Shea added the conversion and in the closing stages Dunne tagged on a drop-goal for good measure.
Clontarf: D O'Shea; N O'Brien, D Higgins, J Downey, O Winchester; D Hewitt, M Walls; W O'Kelly (capt), B Jackman, A Clarke, B Gissing, A Wood, D Quinn, D Moore, S O'Donnell.
Buccaneers: W Munn; T Robinson, C Keane, W Wallace, P O'Sullivan; L Turner, C O'Loughlin; R McCormack, J McVeigh, M Cahill, R Frost, N Smullen, G Shoeman, C Rigney, E Brennan (capt).
Referee - Alan Lewis.
Playing on the back pitch at Lansdowne Road, Ballymena had more of the opportunities in the first half but neither they nor Lansdowne were able to register any score after a fairly ininspiring forty odd minutes.
In the second half, the Ballymena pack gained the upper hand and their two tries came from their forwards.
Lansdowne: B O'Mahony; K Becker, A Magro, K Kennedy, F Baynes; M Leek, S Whelan; E Bohan, R Fallon, A McKeen, S O'Connor, B Cusack, J O'Donovan, S Rooney, L Toland.
Ballymena: P Wallace; J Topping, M Waterhouse, H Jones, S Young; A Larkin, P Spence, N McKernan, P Shields, B Young, M Blair, M McCullough, A Graham, R Nelson, N McMillen.
Referee - David McHugh.