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Lansdowne Convincing Winners In Cork

Lansdowne Convincing Winners In Cork

Lansdowne’s quickening march towards the Ulster Bank League title continued at Temple Hill as they dispatched heavyweights Cork Constitution.

Mike Ruddock’s side look to have silverware well within their grasp, with Saturday afternoon’s bonus point win widening their lead at the top of the table to 12 points with six rounds remaining.

Cork Constitution were made to pay for a nightmare first half display during which they leaked 24 unanswered points.

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The visitors made a lively start with Ireland Club international Craig Ronaldson landing a sixth minute penalty from 40 metres out.

By the 33rd minute they had registered two converted tries. A smart counter attack from Clive Ross, a cousin of Ireland international Mike, set the attack in motion.

Ross fed Foster Horan to his left and the young winger, breaking away from his own 10-metre line, outpaced the covering Darragh Lyons to score a smashing opener.

A lengthy injury stoppage for the unfortunate Brian O'Hara – he was hospitalised with a serious leg injury – failed to disrupt Lansdowne’s progress.

Their number 8 Ron Boucher touched down following a sustained period of pressure with Cian Aherne and Ferdia Doherty both prominent in the build-up.

Doherty crashed through the Cork Con midfield with relative ease and his well-delivered pass gave Boucher an easy finish by the posts.

Constitution were dealt a further blow on the stroke of half-time as out-half Ronaldson dummied his way over for a third converted try, wrestling past his Ireland Club XV colleague Gerry Hurley over the line.

Ronaldson is the division’s top scorer – he had amassed 127 points in the previous rounds – and the one-way traffic continued early in the second half.

A penalty from Ronaldson was added to by Tadhg Beirne's 47th-minute try – the big lock bounded in from the back of a ruck with the home defence caught off guard. That confirmed the bonus point for the ruthless Dubliners.

After that, Cork Con, who soon lost hooker Andrew O'Driscoll to the sin-bin, only really had pride to play for. A long range penalty from Ronaldson fell narrowly wide.

The hosts had struggled to gain a platform against Lansdowne’s hulking pack, but they did muster up two converted tries as they upped their game in the final 10 minutes.

Scrum half and captain Gerry Hurley, who maintained a high work-rate throughout, scored the first and back rower Cathal O'Flaherty followed him over the try-line right at the death.

Ronaldson's opposite number Johnny Holland managed to convert both efforts from wide out, but the Leesiders were very much second best on the day

Commenting on the league leaders afterwards, Cork Con head coach Brian Walsh told the Irish Examiner: “You look at that Lansdowne side and you wonder how a lot of them aren’t in professional rugby.

“They’re certainly physically able for it, and it helps if you have someone like Mike Ruddock, who has won a Six Nations Grand Slam with Wales, orchestrating it all.

“They have a big squad with a lot of talent so they don’t struggle when guys are away with Ireland Under-20s or with Leinster.

“But the one thing that stands out for me is their physicality, they’re such a powerful side. It just shows the level the league has gone to now, the non-contracted players are as big if not bigger than the contracted guys.”

He added: “We’ve a new gym built, it’s there for a purpose and we’ll use it. There’s a lot of work to be done in the off-season.

“We’ve struggled with consistency all year, a lot of guys are learning a lot of lessons. I think we’ve beaten everyone in the league but no one twice. That’s the frustration of it.”

Referee: Nigel Correll (IRFU)