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Clontarf Win Clash Of The Heavyweights At Castle Avenue
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Clontarf Win Clash Of The Heavyweights At Castle Avenue

Clontarf Win Clash Of The Heavyweights At Castle Avenue

Defending champions Clontarf moved up to third place in Ulster Bank League Division 1A tonight following their hard-earned 12-3 victory over Lansdowne at Castle Avenue.

Out-half David Joyce kicked all 12 of Clontarf's points in this keenly-contested Friday Night Lights encounter, and after Scott Deasy was off target from a late penalty, Lansdowne came away empty-handed from their fourth league defeat of 2016/17.

The two sides have evenly shared the last four Division 1A titles, but with 10 wins under their belt, Lansdowne entered this game with an enviable seven-point lead at the top of the table.

'Tarf were boosted by a recent bonus point away success over Old Belvedere, however, and they took the lead here after just four minutes.

Joyce had kicked to touch from an early penalty, but after Lansdowne were penalised inside their own 22, the reliable number 10 make no mistake with his first kick at goal in tough and muddy conditions.

'Tarf were forcing the visitors into the concession of numerous penalties and Joyce duly doubled his side's lead in the 14th minute. They suffered a set back just beyond the first quarter, as former Ireland Under-20 prop Vakhtang Abdaladze was forced off through injury and replaced by the returning Ivan Soroka.

However, another successful Joyce penalty moved the north Dubliners into a nine-point advantage, and with Lansdowne second row Josh O'Rourke sent to the sin-bin on 28 minutes, 'Tarf were aiming to push on for the remainder of the half.

Yet, Lansdowne held firm in defence, and ex-Cork Constitution and Munster out-half Deasy reduced their half-time arrears to six points (9-3) with a superb penalty strike from distance.

This kept the league leaders within range of their hosts as the action resumed, and even though try-scoring opportunities were few and far between throughout the contest, Lansdowne gained a significant amount of possession during the early stages of the second half.

Crucially, 'Tarf were quite disciplined without the ball, and when Joyce stepped forward for his fourth place-kick of the night 16 minutes after the restart, he split the posts again in confident style.

Lansdowne now had a mountain to climb in the closing quarter, but as the final whistle approached, they managed to establish a foothold inside the 'Tarf 22. A powerful drive towards the whitewash almost yielded a try for Mike Ruddock's men, but strong work from the opposition rearguard held them up just shy of the line.

When Deasy opted for the posts from a distance of 25 metres in the final play, it looked like like Lansdowne would secure a losing bonus point. His kick drifted past the right hand post, though, and Clontarf were able to celebrate four hard-earned points for themselves and none for one of their main title rivals.

Referee: Gary Conway (IRFU)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Jack Power; Rob Keogh, Michael Brown, Matt D'Arcy, Mick McGrath; David Joyce, Sam Cronin; Vakhtang Abdaladze, Jason Harris-Wright, Royce Burke-Flynn, Ben Reilly (capt), James Doyle, Tony Ryan, Karl Moran, Michael Noone.

Replacements used: Ivan Soroka for Abdaladze (22 mins), Sean Long for Brown (60). Not used: Jonathan Larbey, Neil Reilly, Mark Sutton.

Away Team

Eamonn Mills; Daniel McEvoy, John O'Donnell, Mark Roche, Mark O'Keefe; Scott Deasy, Matthew D'Arcy; Jacob Walshe, James Rael, Ian Prendiville (capt), Josh O'Rourke, Stephen Gardiner, Joe McSwiney, Charlie Butterworth, Willie Earle.

Replacements used: Tyrone Moran for Rael (half-time), Alan Bennie for D'Arcy (67 mins) Not used: Greg McGrath, Philip Donnellan, Charlie McMickan.

Match Scorers

Home Team

Pens: David Joyce 4

Away Team

Pen: Scott Deasy