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AIB League: Dungannon And Lansdowne On The Up

AIB League: Dungannon And Lansdowne On The Up

Thanks to their recent good form, both Dungannon and Lansdowne are now just two points away from gaining a spot in Division One’s top four.

Thanks to their recent good form, both Dungannon and Lansdowne are now just two points away from gaining a spot in Division One’s top four.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, January 6


Scorers: Harlequins: Pens: Niall O’Connor 2

Dungannon: Tries: Richard McCarter, Ryan Caldwell, Oisin Hennessy; Con: McCarter; Pens: McCarter 2

Belfast Harlequins are still without a Division One win, eight games into the season, after they came a cropper at Deramore Park on Saturday, going down 23-6 to Dungannon.

‘Quins, who have brought in former Ulster coach Alan Solomons as a coaching consultant, were well in touch as the break as they trailed Dungannon 6-3.

Niall O’Connor hit a lone penalty in between efforts from Dungannon out-half Richard McCarter. But the Tyrone men dominated the second half as they notched tires through McCarter, Ryan Caldwell and Oisin Hennessy.

The win, Dungannon’s fifth in their last six league games, has moved them up to sixth in the table.

Armed with a slight breeze, Dungannon kicked off after ‘Quins had elected to play from the Pavilion End. The busy McCarter, who won the Porcelanosa-sponsored man of the match award, landed his first penalty after 18 minutes after a scrum infringement from John Andress.

Five minutes later McCarter swung over his second penalty and Jeremy Davidson’s men were 6-3 in front. ‘Quins then lost lock Lewis Stevenson to the sin bin as he illegally halted a drive, but the hosts held firm and O’Connor thumped over a 33rd-minute penalty to cut the gap.

‘Quins’ scrum woes continued but they held out for the remainder of the first half. However, the Dungannon pack was just biding its time as a brilliant 45th-minute drive put them in an excellent position and hard-working lock Caldwell plunged over.

…Dungannon’s Thomas Anderson tracks the movements of Belfast Harlequins scrum half Paul Marshall…

O’Connor replied with his second penalty and Andy Ward’s charges then had a decent spell during which a counter attack from full-back Mark Kettyle looked to have the Dungannon defence stretched. They held out and althought they lost winger Mark Scott to a yellow card, O’Connor missed a kickable penalty at 11-6.

Territorially, ‘Quins, with their one-man advantage, were now on top yet they could not take full advantage and McCarter’s intercept score, which saw him race a full 60 metres before going under the posts, really swung the game in the visitors’ favour.

The conversion was dinked over, with just ten minutes remaining, and ‘Gannon’s third try soon followed. Hennessy took ball on up the blindside and muscled over. ‘Quins missed out on a late consolation score when their skipper Colin Atkinson just failed to hold a midfield pass but there was no denying the Tyrone side.

…Lansdowne scrum half Derry Coughlan tries to get past Blackrock’s Des Dillon…


Scorers: Blackrock: Tries: Emmett Farrell, Adam Byrnes, David Rowan, Michael Berne

Lansdowne: Tries: Gavin O’Meara, Ron Boucher, Devin Toner; Cons: Robbie Dolan 3; Pen: Dolan

Lansdowne moved within sight of the last play-off spot in Division One of the AIB League on Saturday, as they scored a three-try 24-20 win over their south Dublin rivals Blackrock.

Pack men Gavin O’Meara, Ron Boucher and Devin Toner all crossed the ‘Rock whitewash, but the man of the match plaudits went to young scrum half Derry Coughlan, who has been capped by the England Under-18s and Under-19s but is Irish qualified.

Highly rated by the Leinster set-up, Coughlan is a member of the province’s Academy and turned 21 on Monday. The possessor of an attack-minded rugby brain and a clever boot, he is certainly a player to watch in 2007.

It was one of the old stagers, Blackrock player-coach Emmett Farrell, who got the scoring underway when he squeezed over past Alan McCormack in the right corner. The conversion was missed and Lansdowne were soon in front when hooker O’Meara was driven over.

Leinster’s Niall Ronan took a quick tap and sent O’Meara through the ‘Rock defence on a 30-metre run. Full-back Robbie Dolan added the extras but ‘Rock took a 10-7 lead into the second half as Leinster lock Adam Byrnes managed to peel off a close-in drive and touch down as the half came to a close.

Fionn Carr, who had a luckless day with the boot – kicking zero from five, was denied a try on 24 minutes when he lost possession over the Lansdowne try line, but Byrnes struck from close range just three minutes later.

Dolan, who had amassed 61 points in his seven previous league games, contrived to miss three penalty attempts as the half came to a close – the former Bective clubman was desperately unlucky with two of those kicks as they bounced back off the crossbar and an upright.

…David Rowan, one of Blackrock’s try scorers, is tackled by Lansdowne’s Neil Walsh…

But the headquarters side managed to push 21-10 clear by the hour mark as Boucher plunged over for Dolan to convert and Toner, the long-limbed Leinster lock, burrowed over after excellent continuity work by Coughlan and the visitors’ pack.

Lansdowne’s surge into the lead was helped when Byrnes was sin-binned for “leading with the head” against Ronan. The half was only six minutes old when Coughlan speared through the ‘Rock rearguard, showing great pace over halfway and offloaded for Boucher, who unfortunately injured his hamstring when scoring, to dot down.

On 59 minutes, Toner was worked over and Dolan’s conversion and 67th-minute penalty nosed them into a 24-10 lead. ‘Rock then showed great spirit to notch two late tries to take something out of the game.

They made a fight of it and secured two losing bonus point when winger David Rowan (74 minutes) and Leinster centre Michael Berne (81) both breached the Lansdowne cover. Lansdowne, who brought Leinster ‘A’ prop Ruaidhri Murphy on to make his league debut, held on for their fourth win in five league games.

However, Rowan almost spoiled their day when he looked set for his second try in injury-time and only a brilliantly-timed tackle from Dolan kept him out.

This result actually saw Lansdowne slip from sixth to seventh place in the table, with the teams in fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh all currently on 24 points.