Dolphin coughed up a half-time lead at Musgrave Park as Cork Constitution blitzed their city rivals in the second half to move back to the top of AIB League Division One.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, February 22
DOLPHIN 22 CORK CONSTITUTION 41, Musgrave Park
Scorers: Dolphin: Tries: Chris Rowe, Robbie Allen, Warren De Bruin; Cons: Barry Keeshan 2; Pen: Barry Keeshan
Cork Constitution: Tries: Daragh Lyons, Cronan Healy 2, Andrew O’Brien, Simon Zebo; Cons: Peter Brougham 5; Pens: Peter Brougham 2
Cork Con edged Dolphin in a tight AIB Cup quarter-final last weekend but this afternoon’s league encounter, which was also at Musgrave Park, saw Brian Walsh’s side claim a runaway win.
The game started brightly for Dolphin with their Welsh lock Chris Rowe storming over for a try after 13 minutes. Out-half Barry Keeshan converted but the visitors got level by the midway point of the first half.
A breakdown in communication in the Dolphin back-line allowed Con number 10 Daragh Lyons scoop up a loose ball and he had the pace to make a 50-metre burst and score an excellent try, which full-back Peter Brougham converted.
Dolphin went back in front, just two minutes later, when back rower Robbie Allen finished off a forwards-initiated move and Keeshan again converted.
Brougham’s first successful penalty closed the gap for Con to 14-10 at half-time, but Walsh’s men really tightened their grip on the game in the third quarter.
Their experienced winger Cronan Healy sliced through to grab a brilliant individual try, six minutes after the restart, and Brougham’s conversion made it 17-14.
Keeshan briefly levelled it for Dolphin, courtesy of a 30-metre penalty, but tries from Healy (57 minutes), Andrew O’Brien (65) and Simon Zebo (73) saw Con up the tempo and make the game safe.
Brougham converted all three and added a 64th-minute penalty as the defending champions secured their third successive bonus point win in the league.
Dolphin, who had not lost a home league game since March 2007, gained scant consolation with an unconverted try from centre Warren De Bruin.
The results leaves Dolphin in sixth position in the table, just a point away from the play-off positions, while table-toppers Constitution have maintained a two-point lead over their chief chasers Shannon.
Interestingly and as a sign of the champions’ current form, Con have now scored 40-plus points in their last three league matches – 49 against Dungannon, 47 against Buccaneers and 41 against Dolphin – tallying up 17 tries in the process.