Dylan Donnellan and Ben Murphy scored two tries each in Clontarf’s ultra-efficient 38-21 win over Dublin University at College Park.
Clontarf remain top of the table in Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1A, taking care of their bonus point by half-time before hooker Donnellan took his season’s haul to 12 tries in 14 league games.
Despite losing Tony Ryan to the sin bin early on for a high tackle, the visitors scored from their second lineout maul opportunity. Mick Kearney set up a strong drive from which Donnellan lunged over the line for replacement Conor Kelly to convert.
Leinster-capped flanker Alex Soroka put his name to try number two, bouncing off Liam McMahon’s attempted tackle and evading Gavin Jones’ grasp after an initial jinking break from Tadhg Bird.
Scrum half Murphy got in on the act past the half hour mark, released for the line by two terrific long passes from Steve Crosbie and ‘Tarf captain Matt D’Arcy.
Barely three phases after the restart, full-back Bird embarked on a brilliant weaving run that made 60 metres. His offload out of a tackle sent Ireland Under-20 squad member Noah Sheridan in under the posts for the bonus point try, converted by Kelly.
Trinity had their moments during the first half, enjoying some decent spells in the defending champions’ 22, and they closed the gap to 24-7 for half-time thanks to a late Colm Hogan effort.
It was a nicely-crafted score off a tapped penalty, Bart Vermeulen and Mark Nicholson exchanging passes to sending Hogan slicing in under the posts, giving Aran Egan a simple conversion.
Repeated penalties had landed ‘Tarf lock Ed Kelly in the bin, and the students made it a 10-point game early in the second half of this fixture which doubled up as a Leinster Senior Cup semi-final.
Hogan gobbled up the metres on the right, before Leinster duo Thomas Clarkson and Lee Barron both carried well having been sprung from the bench.
It gave out-half Egan just enough space to get over in the left corner past the covering Murphy, with the division’s top scorer adding a fine conversion for good measure.
However, direct carrying from his forwards put Murphy in prime position to snipe over for the north Dubliners’ fifth try, stepping inside Stephen Woods in the process. Kelly converted for a 31-14 scoreline.
Tony Smeeth’s side stormed back when a perfectly-timed Egan pass put Hogan haring over out wide to complete his brace. Egan added the extras to reduce the arrears to 10 points again.
Although two scrum penalties gave Trinity further hope entering the final quarter, pressure near their try-line saw Woods yellow carded and a subsequent maul propelled Donnellan over for the match-winning try.
Shannon consigned their great rivals Garryowen to relegation following a 26-16 derby victory for Stephen Keogh’s side at Dooradoyle.
Garryowen were only once previously relegated from the top flight back in 2014, but they will be playing Division 1B rugby next season given second-from-bottom Shannon are now 22 points above them with four games to go.
Two closing penalties from out-half Mike Cooke secured an important result for Shannon who remain in touch with the teams above them. Both UCD and Lansdowne are within a three-point range.
Following a poignant minute’s silence to remember former Garryowen captain and coach Tom Tierney, who sadly passed away on Friday, Shannon took a fifth-minute lead with some superb interplay between backs and forwards ending with Dan Hurley scoring in the left corner.
Nonetheless, Cooke’s touchline conversion was followed by a 10-point spurt from Garryowen. A penalty opened Tony Butler’s account before hooker Michael Mbaud barged over for a converted try.
Mbaud’s opposite number, Jordan Prenderville, was driven over from a 29th-minute maul for his sixth try of the campaign, which was quickly followed by another Butler penalty.
Shannon, though, turned a 13-12 deficit into a 17-13 half-time lead, their ability to keep the ball alive rewarded with a late Alan Flannery try in the corner.
There were no further tries in this keenly-contested clash, Butler cancelling out one Cooke kick but the latter split the posts twice more to leave the young Light Blues outfit crestfallen.
UCD won an eight-try thriller with Cork Constitution through a combination of clinical finishing and defiant late defence at Temple Hill.
Mark McDermott’s youngsters kept themselves out of the bottom two with a third straight win, prevailing 34-29 with centre David Ryan claiming the decisive try and Con being held up twice late on.
UCD built a 27-10 interval lead with a strong wind behind them. Fresh from his Leinster senior debut, prop Jack Boyle burst through a 25th-minute ruck and showed good pace to touch down. Michael Moloney converted to add to his two earlier penalties.
Cork Con were 20 points adrift after Alex O’Grady got on the end of a very well-worked back-line move, but the hosts’ own back-three, George Coomber, Billy Crowley and Daniel Hurley, combined for the latter to get them on the board.
Captain Aidan Moynihan converted and added a penalty, only for UCD to squeeze in a third try before the break. They forced a scrum penalty and then the lineout platform paved the way for number 8 Sean O’Brien to score his sixth try of the season.
Cork Con showed their mettle, recovering from Luke Masters’ sin-binning to reel off three tries in a tremendous 15-minute spell. Replacement prop Brendan Quinlan muscled over for the first of them, with Coomber converting.
Number 8 David Hyland powered over off the back of a scrum on the hour mark, the extras from Coomber suddenly making it a three-point game (27-24).
UCD’s defence creaked again, allowing Con replacement Ross O’Neill to cross. Coomber missed the conversion this time and also watched a subsequent kick blown over the end line by the wind.
College took full advantage, using a penalty to go for the corner and then tee up Ryan, younger brother of James who captained Ireland to victory over Italy in Rome, to have the final say in the 72nd minute.
Munster’s Patrick Campbell scored the opening try to set Young Munster on their way to a 21-0 triumph over in-form Ballynahinch.
‘Hinch had won five of their last six games to draw within two points of fourth-placed Munsters, but Gearoid Prendergast’s charges held them scoreless in an impressive team display at Greenfields.
Full-back Campbell hurtled onto a Luke Fitzgerald pass to edge the Cookies in front in the 20th minute. Shay McCarthy added a second try just before half-time, Evan Cusack floating out a peach of a pass to the winger and converting to make it 14-0.
‘Hinch’s hopes took a huge hit when Sean Rigney broke their defensive line, and a deliberate knock-on saw the Limerick men awarded a penalty try.
With their Ulster-capped contingent influential, the visitors battled back from two yellow cards. The Cookies lost two players of their own to the bin, and while pleased with the win, there was a sense that they left the bonus point behind them.
Terenure College put two recent defeats behind them with a swashbuckling 43-24 dismissal of south Dublin rivals Lansdowne at Lakelands Park.
Craig Adams took his season’s haul to 11 tries as ‘Nure’s dominant six-try first half salvo saw them effectively put the game to bed despite a spirited fight-back from Lansdowne.
The game doubled up as a Leinster Senior Cup semi-final, so Sean Skehan’s men won through to face Clontarf, the team they currently trail by a single point at the top of Division 1A.
‘Nure capitalised on Liam Forster’s early sin-binning, with Adam La Grue’s inside pass setting up Adams for a powerful finish beside the posts. Fellow winger Caolan Dooley converted.
Dooley was next over the whitewash, Peter Sylvester and Callum Smith combining neatly in midfield before La Grue set up the winger to score despite Daniel McEvoy’s best efforts to stop him.
Alan Bennie got his hand in to disrupt a Lansdowne move off a scrum, the resulting possession being fed to the onrushing Colm de Buitléar who floated a pinpoint skip pass wide for full-back La Grue to make it 21-0 with Dooley nailing the conversion again.
‘Nure ticked off the bonus point in the 18th minute, as pressure in the Lansdowne 22 led to prop Campbell Classon driving over with Matthew Caffrey on the latch. Dooley’s reliable right boot put 28 points between the sides.
As Lansdowne continued to struggle to make headway, Dooley landed a monster penalty from inside his own half. Even when the visitors put some promising phases together, their maul was smothered into touch and there were other turnovers.
Then, from a Mick Melia lineout steal, Terenure flashed the ball across to the opposite wing where La Grue’s expertly-timed pass released Adams to kick through and win the race with Peter Sullivan to dot the ball down just before the end line.
It was a top class finish from the in-form winger, and Lansdowne fell further behind when their former scrum half Bennie beat two defenders near halfway, got a return pass from La Grue and found de Buitléar on his left to finish off another quick-fire attack.
However, Lansdowne worked their way into position through a series of early second half penalties. With Bennie in the bin for his part in collapsing a maul, James Kenny set up Cillian Redmond to go over in the left corner under Dooley’s challenge.
Punishing a missed touchfinder from La Grue, Lansdowne countered impressively in the 55th minute as openside Forster, invited forward by Liam O’Sullivan, dummied in between two defenders and raced over for Stephen Madigan to convert.
The pressure increased on Terenure following Dooley’s deliberate knock-on which resulted in another yellow. A long Madigan pass put O’Sullivan over, the winger fending off the returning Bennie to push his side onto a 19-point tally.
Terenure replacement Robbie Smyth was stopped short from a maul, and a turnover penalty won by Tadhg McElroy allowed Lansdowne to clear the danger.
‘Nure ended the game with 14 men after replacement Conor McKeon was sent-off for a high tackle on inrushing Lansdowne centre Tom Monaghan.
The headquarters club used a resulting lineout drive to propel replacement Adam Boland over the whitewash, his 74th-minute bonus point try proving to be the final scoring act.