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Lansdowne Launch League Bid With Bonus Point Display

Lansdowne Launch League Bid With Bonus Point Display

Lansdowne sit top of Ulster Bank League Division 1A after the opening weekend’s action. Mike Ruddock’s men recorded an emphatic 37-6 bonus point win over Dolphin on the main pitch at the Aviva Stadium.

Dolphin were due to host the round 1 clash in Cork but owing to their pitch not being ready just yet, Lansdowne had home advantage on Saturday and former Munster player Scott Deasy shone at out-half with a 15-point contribution.

Deasy controlled proceedings alongside new number 9 Adam Griggs, while Leinster Academy members and Ireland Under-20 internationals Ian Fitzpatrick and Cian Kelleher were let off the leash in attack.

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After an initial difficult opening 15 minutes when the sides were neck and neck, Lansdowne pulled 16-6 clear for half-time and bossed the second half with Kelleher, New Zealander Griggs and replacement Dylan Donnellan adding to Fitzpatrick's 17th-minute try.

Deasy and Dolphin number 10 Barry Keeshan swapped early penalties and despite having most of the possession, the hosts just could not break down the gritty Dolphin defence.

But Lansdowne's class told towards the end of the first quarter when winger Fitzpatrick cut inside the cover to touch down after Griggs had spread the ball wide. Deasy converted for a 10-3 lead.

Keeshan replied with a well-struck 22nd minute penalty, however the Lansdowne back-line – including centres Tom Farrell and Tom Daly – were great to watch, at times, and a ruck offence allowed Deasy to make it 13-6.

The headquarters club went close to scoring a second try when captain Ron Boucher and prop Peter Dooley were both held up during successive drives. Dolphin hooker Dave Byrne was promptly yellow carded for infringing in the build-up and a late penalty from Deasy closed out the first half scoring.

The Cork side were still in touch, but their hopes evaporated when Griggs sniped in under the posts just six minutes after the restart. Deasy's conversion widened the margin to 17 points.

Full-back Kelleher added try number three, finishing well after a superb passing move which saw Deasy and Daly involved in a wrap-around and Deasy then linked with Kelleher out wide.

Dolphin offered little in response and their afternoon was summed up when a Keeshan penalty – kicked towards the corner – was overcooked and went dead.

To their credit, the visitors battled on and while Fitzpatrick was in the sin-bin, winger Steve Dinan was denied a certain try by a textbook tackle from Mark Roche with just over 10 minutes left.

Replacement Jack Dilger became the second Lansdowne player to be yellow carded when he played the ball on the ground. That allowed Dolphin to return to the 22, but Lansdowne were dogged in defence and were rewarded with a bonus point in injury-time.

A quick lineout throw, five metres from the Dolphin whitewash, was gathered by Boucher and he sent Donnellan over to score in the corner. The conversion followed from another of Lansdowne's Ireland U-20 internationals, Conor McKeon.

Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU)