Clontarf’s Ulster Bank League title defence took another dent when Old Belvedere came from behind to beat their Dublin rivals 20-13 at Castle Avenue tonight.
Belvedere moved temporarily back to the top of Division 1A as 15 points from the boot of out-half Steve Crosbie steered Paul Cunningham's men to a hard-earned victory. Winger Simon Killeen's second half try was also crucial.
Crosbie, who is currently in the midst of a short-term deal with Munster, kicked 'Belvo in front with a third minute penalty. But Clontarf produced the perfect response, the visitors failing to deal with an awkward kick in the air by Matt D'Arcy and after gathering the loose ball, pacy full-back Conor Jennings raced through on the left for the opening try.
Jennings' missed conversion was followed by Crosbie's second penalty success, before ‘Tarf created their second unconverted score, moving the ball wide for winger Rob McGrath to cross.
Crosbie closed the gap to 10-9 by the end of the first quarter and it was down to a single point by half-time as Jennings and Crosbie swapped penalties.
Although ‘Tarf had been more clinical in possession, it was anyone’s game in a fiercely-contested third quarter. Ireland Under-20 prop Vakh Abdaladze led by example as the title holders closed down the space on ‘Belvo at every available opportunity.
Crosbie watched a 62nd minute kick drift wide after ‘Tarf centre Michael Brown had been sin-binned for offside. However, just moments later, Belvedere attacked out wide in the hosts’ 22 and Daniel Riordan's short offload saw Killeen dot down to move his side back in front – 17-13.
Clontarf were restored to their full complement in the closing stages, but a superb touchline penalty by the outstanding Crosbie on the stroke of 80 minutes sealed ‘Belvo’s fourth win in six league outings. Seventh-placed ‘Tarf’s record is the exact opposite – two victories and four defeats.
Referee: Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU)