Lansdowne roared back to the top of Ulster Bank League Division 1A with a confidence-boosting 33-31 bonus point win over defending champions Clontarf tonight.
In a sparkling nine-try thriller played on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch, Mike Ruddock's men are now unbeaten in seven league meetings with ‘Tarf since April 2014, a galling statistic for the northsiders who are set to fall into the bottom half of the table.
Lansdowne bounced back from two recent defeats with a much-improved performance, especially in attack. They laid the foundations with three first half tries from forwards Joe McSwiney, Tadgh McElroy and Ireland Sevens international John O'Donnell.
‘Tarf’s Leinster hooker Bryan Byrne and McSwiney swapped tries inside a pacey opening ten minutes, before McElroy scored from a lineout drive and centre O’Donnell finished off Scott Deasy's 38th-minute break, cancelling out a Matt D'Arcy effort at the other end.
That had Lansdowne 21-14 to the good at the end of an absorbing first half which saw David Keane replace the injured Nigel Correll as referee and both place-kickers, Deasy and Rob Keogh, land every conversion.
After leaking a Keogh penalty early in the second period, the hosts’ powerful scrum earned the bonus point with a pushover score from flanker Charlie Butterworth. D’Arcy completed his brace and scrum half Sam Cronin scampered through for ‘Tarf’s fourth of the night, but in between Foster Horan touched down for the headquarters club who finished strongly to seal a narrow but deserved victory.
Referee: Nigel Correll (IRFU)