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Seven-Try Lansdowne Finish First Block As Top Flight Leaders

Seven-Try Lansdowne Finish First Block As Top Flight Leaders

Lansdowne's try-scoring scrum half James Kenny throws a pass during their Division 1A encounter with Ballynahinch on Saturday ©John Dickson/DICKSON DIGITAL

Captain Rory Parata ran in a hat-trick of tries as Lansdowne beat Ballynahinch 45-19 to end the first block of Energia All-Ireland League fixtures as Division 1A leaders.


Saturday, October 21 –

LANSDOWNE 45 BALLYNAHINCH 19, Aviva Stadium main pitch
Scorers: Lansdowne: Tries: Rory Parata 3, Andy Marks 2, James Kenny, George Kenny; Cons: Stephen Madigan 4, Tom Gavigan
Ballynahinch: Tries: Shay Storey, Claytan Milligan 2; Cons: Conor Rankin 2
HT: Lansdowne 19 Ballynahinch 7

Bringing out their best form for this early season outing on the Aviva Stadium’s main pitch, Andy Marks flew over in the 25th minute to add to a close-range double from Parata as Lansdowne took a 19-7 lead into half-time.

Shay Storey had sliced through for an opportunist Ballynahinch try, and Claytan Milligan crossed twice in the second half from mauls, but further scores from Parata, Marks and the Kenny brothers, James and George, made it three straight bonus point wins for Declan Fassbender’s side.

The headquarters club are top of the table for the Halloween break, a single point ahead of Clontarf, last season’s beaten finalists, and Cork Constitution are a further three points back in third place. Ballynahinch have fallen to seventh, but are only four points outside of the top four.

Ballynahinch piled on the pressure early on, their lineout maul making serious inroads before Jack Cooke won a relieving penalty at the breakdown. However, Lansdowne full-back Cathal Eddy soon saw yellow for a deliberate knock-on.

‘Hinch were left to rue their failure to score from a series of early visits to the hosts’ 22, as Parata, having sprung Hugo McLoughlin through on a pacy break, then crashed over from a James Kenny pass for an opening 12th-minute try.

Following the first of Stephen Madigan’s four conversions, Ulster’s Ben Moxham was sin-binned for a high tackle on Temi Lasisi. Lansdowne swiftly took advantage, Hardus van Eeden threatening down the short side of a lineout before Parata scored a carbon copy of his first try.

Conor Rankin got back to cover a kick chase launched by Marks, who did subsequently break through in impressive fashion for Lansdowne’s third try at the South Stand end of the ground.

Van Eeden and Cooke combined to force a turnover near halfway, and Marks, leading a speedy attack down the left wing, took a return pass from Sean Galvin and handed off Chris Gibson to catapult himself in behind the posts. Madigan’s right boot made it 19-0.

Just past the half hour mark, Ballynahinch hit back when a blocked Madigan kick was gobbled up by winger Storey who evaded the Lansdowne out-half’s attempted tap tackle and streaked clear for a much-needed try, converted by Rankin.

Madigan missed a long-range penalty effort with the final kick of the first half, although ‘Hinch were able to draw encouragement from turnovers won by Dominic Clapcott and Kyle McCall, while the latter’s younger brother, flanker Zack, had some good carries too.

Nonetheless, inside two minutes of the restart, Parata was over again. Ben Popplewell carried twice during the build-up and Lansdowne, armed with a penalty advantage, worked an overlap on the right where Parata was able to finish one-handed ahead of the covering Kyle McCall.

Ulster Academy prop George Saunderson was part of an impactful ‘Hinch bench, and following Cooke’s tackle off the ball on Callum Irvine, a well-executed maul saw hooker Milligan driven over in the 54th minute.

A fine conversion from Rankin reduced the arrears to 24-14, only for Lansdowne to reply before the hour mark. A slick backs move straight from a midfield scrum saw Eddy put McLoughlin into space and his kick back inside bounced up nicely for Marks to complete his brace.

Madigan converted and also added the extras to his half-back partner Kenny’s try. It was nip and tuck for a while, with Clive Ross winning a turnover penalty and Bradley Luney stealing a lineout, but Popplewell intercepted a Ryan Wilson pass and fed Kenny for a 50-metre run-in.

‘Hinch raised their hopes of getting something out of the game after Parata was sin-binned for slapping the ball down at a ruck. They got a second wind at a maul and Milligan was shoved over the line to cut the gap to 38-19.

A try-scoring bonus point was in their sights when they finally engineered some space for Ulster flyer Aaron Sexton. He was unable to link with the supporting Luney though, and an important tackle from Lansdowne replacement Liam Forster ensured the attack petered out.

Indeed, prop Lasisi’s breakdown work was soon rewarded with a penalty, bringing Lansdowne back into scoring range. A series of pick-and-goes ended with George Kenny squeezing over right at the death, with fellow replacement Tom Gavigan tagging on the extras.

LANSDOWNE: Cathal Eddy; Hugo McLaughlin, Andy Marks, Rory Parata (capt), Sean Galvin; Stephen Madigan, James Kenny; Ben Popplewell, Tom Barry, Temi Lasisi, Jack Cooke, Luke O’Connor, Clive Ross, Barry Fitzpatrick, Hardus van Eeden.

Replacements: Henry Godson, George Morris, George Kenny, Liam Forster, Jack Matthews, Tom Gavigan.

BALLYNAHINCH: Conor Rankin; Shay Storey, Ben Moxham, Paul Kerr, Aaron Sexton; Dominic Clapcott, Chris Gibson; John Dickson, Claytan Milligan, Kyle McCall (capt), Tom Donnan, Declan Horrox, Callum Irvine, Zack McCall, Bradley Luney.

Replacements: George Saunderson, Harry McCormick, Bryn Ward, Aaron Cairns, Ryan Wilson, Ben Carson.