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Home Win Sees Old Belvedere Fight On

Home Win Sees Old Belvedere Fight On

Old Belvedere got the required result at home to Lansdowne on Saturday, as young out-half Gearoid McDonald’s 14-point haul helped them move off the bottom of the Division 1A table.

The battle to avoid automatic relegation will go right down to the wire with Shannon, ‘Belvo and bottom side Blackrock College all hoping to remain in the top flight for next season.

Whoever ends up bottom after next Saturday’s final round will drop down to Division 1B with the ninth-placed club facing a promotion/relegation play-off against the Division 1B runners-up.

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Lansdowne started this game in positive fashion. They had a chance to take an early lead when they manufactured a 30-metre penalty with just two minutes gone on the clock, but out-half Craig Ronaldson came up short on this occasion.

Mike Ruddock's side continued to put pressure on the 'Belvo rearguard, but the hosts managed to ride this early storm before breaking through for an 11th minute try.

Centre Ben Woods notched it via some excellent approach play by number 8 Leo Auva'a, who was a try-scoring replacement for Leinster against Edinburgh on Friday night.

Youngster Gearoid McDonald was on hand to easily slot over the conversion, and he added a superbly-struck 40-metre penalty in the 23rd minute.

Lansdowne were now struggling to come to terms with the powerful Old Belvedere pack, though they did open their account three minutes later thanks to a close range penalty by Ronaldson.

McDonald cancelled out this score with a penalty of his own just past the half hour mark, but Lansdowne finally came to life in the 37th minute when Ireland Under-20 international Foster Horan broke through for a converted try underneath the posts.

'Belvo did finish the first half on a high, however, as a third successful penalty from the reliable McDonald – this time from all of 45 metres – gave last season's champions a 16-10 advantage heading into the break.

The first half performance would certainly have pleased the Old Belvedere management in their quest to avoid relegation, but they rocked just after the resumption when Horan drove over to the right of the posts for his second try of the contest.

Ronaldson came up short with his conversion attempt, but the margin was now down to the bare minimum.

The early score looked like being the catalyst for the visitors to push on for their 10th victory of the league campaign, but 'Belvo, with their top flight survival on the line, were proving to be a hard nut to crack.

After plenty of hard graft and endeavour in the visitors' half, 'Belvo brought their lead back up to four points in the 69th minute when McDonald kicked over from the left wing with the aid of the breeze.

That strike was cancelled out by a similar effort from Ronaldson just three minutes later, but a clinching penalty from replacement Eamonn Fitzgerald with five minutes left helped 'Belvo claim another precious victory.

Referee: Alain Rolland (IRFU)