Blackrock College gave themselves a much-needed lift as they edged past Garryowen in the battle of the bottom two in Division 1A on Saturday.
The Dubliners came away from Dooradoyle with their first win in five Ulster Bank League games. It was far from plain sailing however, as Garryowen opened well and had two tries on the board in the opening 18 minutes.
A blustery wind played a huge role in this game, but the hosts dashed ahead courtesy of an intercept try from out-half Declan Cusack in the fifth minute. He failed to add the conversion and also missed a kickable penalty.
His opposite number Darragh Fitzpatrick landed a penalty in response for Blackrock. But a splendid piece of play from flanker Paul Neville led to Ronan O'Mahony touching down for Garryowen.
Neville's pop pass was perfectly delivered for the flying O'Mahony to gather and swerve past a couple of defenders on the way to the line.
A few minutes earlier, O'Mahony had made a 30-metre break but was pinned down just short of the whitewash. With Neville's help, he got over this time and Cusack converted and tagged on a penalty to make it 15-3 for Garryowen at half-time.
Fitzpatrick landed penalties after 47 and 53 minutes, nudging 'Rock closer. The second was awarded after Garryowen prop JP Cooney made a try-saving tackle but he had no support and when he infringed at the ensuing ruck, he was sin-binned.
While he was off the pitch, centre Rob Keogh raced 30 metres for a Blackrock try which Fitzpatrick converted to have 'Rock in front for the first time, 19 minutes into the half.
Young winger Jan-Simon Byrne added a crucial second try for the visitors, which went unconverted. Persistent Garryowen pressure might have yielded a penalty try, but not on this occasion.
Blackrock defended manfully against increasing pressure from the hosts. Garryowen had the final say with an 84th minute try from full-back Lorcan Bourke.
The pack had tried to force their way over near the posts, but the Light Blues had to spread the ball wide. The conversion was missed and Andy Wood's men held on to take a morale-boosting away win.
Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU)