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Five-Try Lansdowne Thrill Under Floodlights

Five-Try Lansdowne Thrill Under Floodlights

Winger Cian Aherne bagged a hat-trick of tries as Lansdowne beat defending champions St. Mary’s College to maintain their 100% start to this season’s Ulster Bank League.

Under the floodlights at Templeville Road, the Division 1A leaders made a confident start, taking a deserved 7-0 lead after 14 minutes.

Lansdowne out-half Craig Ronaldson collected a quick scrum ball from half-back partner John Cooney before weaving his way over the whitewash for a try that he converted himself.

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Heineken Cup medallist Cooney was also instrumental in the visitors' second try three minutes later. He broke enterprisingly into the 22 and produced an inch perfect offload for the supporting Cian Aherne to score in the right corner.

Ronaldson was off target with his conversion attempt on this occasion, but Mike Ruddock's charges now had a platform that they could build on in a game that was streamed live by Irish Rugby TV.

St. Mary's showed signs of improvement as the first half wore on. They threatened with a major onslaught 23 minutes in, but the Lansdowne defence held firm.

A missed penalty at the end of the opening period by Steve Toal-Lennon meant St. Mary's had to wait until the second half to open their account.

They did not have long to wait after the restart, however, as Toal-Lennon found his range with a close-in 42nd minute penalty.

A similar effort from the industrious centre, ten minutes later, reduced the deficit to 12-6 as St. Mary's started to turn the screw.

The decisive score of this Friday Night Lights contest arrived 57 minutes into the action though. St. Mary's full-back Conor Hogan had his clearance charged down by the alert Aherne, who subsequently beat Hogan to the loose ball to secure his second try of the evening.

A penalty by replacement Gavin Dunne six minutes from time offered St. Mary's hope late on, but the outstanding Aherne then capped a fine performance with his third try.

The hat-trick score came via some terrific approach work by centre Sean Carey, with three minutes remaining.

Aherne's late effort meant that in-form Lansdowne took a bonus point with them back to Ballsbrige.

A further try arrived deep into stoppage time when replacement Mark Roche got through on the left, helping Lansdowne to cruise over the finish line.

Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU)