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AIB League: Division 1 Match Reports (2)

AIB League: Division 1 Match Reports (2)

Mary’s captured their first win of the season to jump off the bottom of the table. UCD picked up a narrow win while Dolphin and Ballymena posted big points tallies.

St. Mary’s College 26-3 Dungannon

St. Mary’s College powered to their first win of the AIB League season as they downed Dungannon by 26-3 at a rain-soaked Templeville Road.

Having not won in their last seven league games, Mary’s came good as tries from second rows Gareth Logan and Victor Ryan and number 8 Kevin Sheahan helped them climb off the bottom of the table.

The Dubliners led 13-3 at the interval with Dungannon’s only points coming from a John McGuckin penalty, midway through the first half.

Sitting 16th before today’s kick-off, Mary’s knew a win in this pre-Christmas run of games was vital. Dungannon also struggled over the season’s first four games and they lost a tight tussle 16-14 to Greystones last time out.

‘Gannon also possess the worst defence in Division One – they conceded the most points (98) and most tries (12) in their four opening games – and Mary’s, although not taking advantage of that fact initially, did manage to expose the Ulster side’s tackling by the finish.

In horribly wet and windy conditions, both sides began well and they were level at 3-3 with Frank Lynch and ‘Gannon’s league top scorer McGuckin both bisecting the posts with penalty kicks.

Mary’s were soon in the ascendancy and that was mainly down to the hard work of their forwards, led by skipper Logan. Chances had gone a-begging when the hosts kicked too long but Lynch sent a penalty kick to the corner and Logan was driven over for the first try soon after.

Mary’s grabbed another unconverted effort before the break when number 8 Kevin Sheahan picked and went off the base of a close range scrum and he had the strength to make the line.

In the absence of Leinster’s Jonathan Sexton, Lynch did a fine job with the place-kicking and he landed two more penalties before a concerted spell of pressure in the ‘Gannon 22 led to Ryan powering over in the far left corner. Lynch’s excellent left-footed conversion raised the touch judges’ flags and Mary’s could celebrate a long-awaited league win.

St. Mary’s College: Tries: Gareth Logan, Kevin Sheahan, Victor Ryan; Con: Frank Lynch; Pens: Frank Lynch 3
Dungannon: Pen: John McGuckin

UCD 24-22 Old Belvedere

UCD survived a second half fight-back from Old Belvedere to beat their near neighbours at Belfield and chalk up their third win of the current AIB League campaign.

Having lost to Ballymena last time out, the students got back to winning ways with wingers Vasily Artemiev (2 tries) and Cian Aherne (try) in scoring form.

UCD were 21-0 in front at half-time but tries from Kevin Barden and Stephen Rockett saw Belvo get it back to 21-12.

Killian Lett’s third penalty of the afternoon was the clinching kick for UCD despite a late Marcin Wilczuk try.

Meeting for only the fourth time in the league since 1995, these Dublin rivals have a number of bright young talents at their disposal, including a number of recent Under-19 and Under-20 internationals.

With a howling wind at their backs in the first half, it was UCD who grabbed the game by the scruff of its neck.

Michael Hastings and Lett used the wind well when kicking for positions and while the respective packs were evenly matched, it was out wide where UCD pressed home their early advantage.

The Moscow-born Artemiev raced over for an early unconverted try despite the best efforts of the covering Felix Jones and UCD foraged clear with a Lett penalty being followed up by a well-finished five-pointer from Aherne, who was put away by Andy Cummiskey.

Lett banged over another penalty kick before Artemiev squeezed over in the left corner for his second try following a sustained spell of pressure up front for UCD, with Conor Geoghegan, Arthur Houlihan and Sean O’Brien putting in plenty of hard work.

UCD had a 21-0 buffer to protect for the second half. They needed another pinpoint penalty kick from Lett to secure the victory as Belvo bounced back with 22 points of their own.

Richie Murphy used the elements to get his side within striking distance and heap the pressure on the students.

Strike runners like Jones, Eoin O’Malley and Barden came more and more into the game as the visitors’ pack gained the hard yards and began to stretch the UCD defence.

The efforts from winger Barden and number 8 Rockett did cut the gap to nine points but Lett’s final penalty gave UCD enough of a cushion to see out the win, despite a try from Polish prop Wilczuk and a smartly-struck drop goal from the evergreen Murphy, who was playing in the Heineken Cup for Leinster just over nine years ago.

Tries: Vasily Artemiev 2, Cian Aherne; Pens: Killian Lett 3
Old Belvedere: Tries: Kevin Barden, Stephen Rockett, Marcin Wilczuk; Cons: Richie Murphy 2; Drop: Richie Murphy

Dolphin 21-5 Lansdowne

Dolphin maintained their grip on third place in the Division One standings with this well-deserved victory over Lansdowne at Musgrave Park.

Despite the Lansdowne pack gaining parity in the first half, Dolphin still went in at the break 13-0 in front thanks to a 33rd-minute try from winger Rory Kenneally.

Two minutes into the second period, home prop Fergus Gately was driven over. Out-half Barry Keeshan kicked 11 points in total for Dolphin, while full-back Justin Meagher grabbed a late consolation try for Lansdowne.

Beaten by Blackrock College last time out, Lansdowne travelled looking for their first league win over Dolphin at Musgrave Park but David O’Mahony’s home side have quickly become a force to be reckoned with.

With the division’s top scorer Keeshan pulling the strings behind a powerful pack which includes Munster’s James Coughlan, Dolphin are deservedly riding high in the table currently.

Their centre pairing of Eric Maloney and Duncan Richardson is a very solid one and the Corkmen like to mix it behind the scrum as well.

Today’s clash was somewhat of a slow burner with Keeshan opening the scoring with a penalty in the 21st-minute. A defensive mix-up amongst the Lansdowne backs allowed Dolphin to capitalise and put flying right winger Kenneally over for a well-taken try.

Keeshan converted and things got even better for Dolphin when Lansdowne lost back rower Pom Simone to a yellow card for killing the ball. As the rain continued to fall in worsening conditions, Keeshan slammed over his second penalty for a 13-0 scoreline.

Just two minutes after the break, tighthead prop Gately was driven over for Dolphin’s second try and while Keeshan missed the conversion, the former Cork Constitution player nabbed another penalty in the 56th-minute for 21-0.

Dolphin could have scuppered their chances when they had two players sin-binned in quick succession. The aforementioned Maloney (63 minutes) and Coughlan (73) both saw yellow but Dolphin’s defence held out until Meagher crossed the whitewash two minutes from time.

Scorers: DOLPHIN: Tries: Rory Kenneally, Fergus Gately; Con: Barry Keeshan; Pens: Barry Keeshan 3
LANSDOWNE: Try: Justin Meagher

Greystones 0-27 Ballymena

Winger Peter Budina touched down twice for Ballymena against Greystones as they climbed to fifth in the Division One table.

The Braidmen assumed control during the first half at Dr. Hickey Park with tries from number 8 Chris Henry and full-back Jamie Smith.

Greystones had their best spell during the opening 30 minutes but remained scoreless and trailed by 15-0 at half-time.

Budina grabbed his brace in the second half as Ballymena pushed on despite losing blindside flanker Andy Graham to a yellow card.

Making the transition from Division Two to the top flight after so many seasons out of the loop is proving difficult for Colin McEntee’s young Greystones side, although untimely injuries, coupled with the loss of influential back rower Rob Connolly to Rotherham, have certainly not helped them.

Ballymena are at the opposite end of the scale in that they recently turned a corner. They ended a run of nine consecutive league defeats, the longest in the club’s history, and built on that a fortnight ago with a fine 19-0 win at home to UCD.

Jacques Benade’s men are playing some good rugby and although they did open the scoring today against the run of play, they had the players in Smith, goal-kicking scrum half Craig Woods, lock Ian Caldwell and back rowers Graham and Henry to see them to victory.

What will most please Benade is that as well as chalking up their first bonus point win of the campaign, his charges managed to whitewash a side for the second week running.

The try of the first half came when former Ireland Under-19 starlet Smith showed a clean pair of heels to the Greystones cover as he darted over to the left of the posts.

Ballymena made a blistering start to the second half when Budina crashed over after a quick switch of play from left to right.

‘Stones had four decent try-scoring chances during the second half but could not convert any of them as the Ulster side went further in front.

Budina registered his second try, after Ballymena had being restored to 15 men, and Woods knocked over the conversion to crown the club’s first ever away win over the Wicklow side.

Ballymena: Tries: Jamie Smith, Peter Budina 2, Chris Henry; Cons: Craig Woods 2; Pen: Craig Woods