Second half tries from James O’Donoghue and Robbie Smyth steered Terenure College past Blackrock College at Lakelands Park this season, as the Division 1B leaders maintained their 100% league record.
The 20-8 win was Terenure’s 11th league success in as many outings and with Corinthians’ match away to Shannon postponed due to the inclement weather, the Dubliners have now opened a 13-point gap at the top of the table.
Although his game did go ahead, the conditions at Lakelands were hardly ideal and there was a very strong wind blowing down the pitch in addition to some very mucky patches in vital areas.
The breeze was strongly in favour of Blackrock during the opening half, but despite applying some pressure in the early exchanges, they found themselves falling behind to an early try.
There were only four minutes on the clock when ‘Nure full-back James O’Donoghue touched down after left winger Harry Moore had fly-kicked a loose ball from deep.
Referee Andy Brace had initially been hesitant to award the score, but he eventually raised his hand. Out-half Mark O’Neill missed the target with a wayward conversion kick.
‘Rock responded in impressive fashion though and they got off the mark thanks to an 18th minute penalty from centre Rob Keogh.
Terenure scrum half Kevin O’Neill had been sent to the sin-bin just before Keogh’s kick and as a result, the hosts were under pressure for an extended period of play.
Blackrock were causing plenty of problems for the league leaders, but unfortunately they were unable to capitalise on the possession that came their way.
Terenure regrouped and were helped by their excellent lineout that was marshalled by second rows Kevin O’Dwyer and Fergal Walsh. A 38th minute penalty from Mark O’Neill then edged ‘Nure into a 8-3 lead for half-time.
Back came Blackrock and with ‘Nure having replacement Robert Duke yellow carded in the 51st minute – just three minutes after his introduction – lock Michael Carroll powered over for a levelling try.
Carroll found a gap in the heart of the Terenure defence and crossed the whitewash in spectacular fashion. Facing into the wind, Keogh failed to add the extras.
It was at this point that Terenure moved up a gear and seven minutes after Carroll’s score, O’Donoghue dotted down in the right corner at the end of a fine move.
Mark O’Neill right-footed the conversion through the posts, making it 15-8, and Terenure pressed home their advantage when hooker Robbie Smyth finished off a dangerous attack on the left flank with an unconverted try.
At Deramore Park, Belfast Harlequins made it three league victories on the trot in 2014 with a terrific 20-0 defeat of UL Bohemians.
Adam Larkin’s men are now just two points behind fifth-placed Bohs in the table. They made light of the tough weather conditions to produce some very effective rugby, particularly in the first half.
Outside centre Mark Best and full-back Rory Scholes both touched down in the opening 12 minutes as ‘Quins built a 12-0 lead which they retained up to the interval.
Bohs struggled to hit back and after a Liam Cambridge penalty, the win was wrapped up by a 72nd minute score from number 8 Daniel Dass.
Struggling Dublin University climbed to eighth place on the back of a hard-earned 25-19 triumph over bottom side Dungannon at Sydney Parade.
It was only the students’ third success of the campaign and their new out-half Sam Windsor was central to it, scoring one of their four tries and kicking five points off the tee.
Seventh-placed Malone are another team who have found form since the turn of the year, and they took the scalp of promotion hopefuls Buccaneers at Gibson Park.
Despite being reduced to 13 players in the final quarter, the Belfast side ran out deserving 13-8 winners. They had tries in each half from flanker James McAlister and scrum half Shane Kelly, the latter scoring from a superb pick-up from a scrum.
A late try from right winger Billy Henshaw saw Buccs secure a losing bonus point which has moved them above UL and into third position.
Meanwhile, the meeting of Shannon and Corinthians will take place at a later date after the Coonagh pitch was ruled unplayable due to the bad weather.
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