Lansdowne boss Mike Ruddock was disappointed with his side’s first defeat of the Ulster Bank League campaign – a tight 14-10 reversal at Ballynahinch – but was full of praise for the efforts of the battling hosts.
Luck was on Lansdowne’s side last week when Clontarf missed a couple of kickable penalties and young replacement Conor McKeon stepped up to boot the headquarters club to a 9-6 win.
However, a combination of injuries and provincial call-ups weakened Mike Ruddock’s hand for their round 4 trip to Ballynahinch and their winning run was duly halted by the County Down outfit.
Among the Lansdowne absentees were backs Cian Kelleher and Tom Daly who lined out for Leinster ‘A’ back in Dublin, while McKeon played for Connacht Eagles on Thursday and injury ruled out vice-captain Mark Roche along with two first choice props.
The usually reliable Scott Deasy (pictured below) also missed three first half penalty attempts, however Mike Ruddock was not looking for excuses when giving his assessment of the game afterwards.
“We missed a few kicks in that first half that would have made a bit of difference but full credit to Ballynahinch, they are a well organised team and are well coached,” he said.
“We knew if we weren’t effective with every tackle they would get their tails up and make a break or two and that is exactly what happened.
“I thought for the most part we controlled the game, but in fairness to Ballynahinch they got two very well executed tries where they got away from our defenders and scored. So no complaints from us, we should have put the points on the board but we didn’t.
“We said before the game that this was going to be a hell of a battle and it is (about) making sure that we keep our concentration levels and physicality up for the full 80. We just slipped off a couple of tackles there towards the end.”
Although the result saw Lansdowne lose ground on table toppers Terenure College, they have only dropped to third place – level on 14 points with defending champions Clontarf.
Ruddock, whose side host UCD next on November 1, is remaining positive. “We’re disappointed to have lost but we’ve won our first three games and have a losing bonus point away from home. There is a long way to go in this league,” he insisted.
“If someone had given us that at the start we probably would have settled for that. The last couple of games we have won with the crucial kick, today the goal kicks weren’t going our way. It is a case of swings and roundabouts and you have got to take it.
“The performance level was pretty good considering injuries and we have a number of players involved in ‘A’ matches. Look, I think it is just a case of well done to Ballynahinch today, congratulations to them.”