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Lansdowne Squeeze Past Dolphin

Lansdowne Squeeze Past Dolphin

Munster duo Denis Hurley and Sean Dougall were unable to inspire Dolphin to victory as Division 1A leaders Lansdowne took the spoils at Musgrave Park.

Out-half Craig Ronaldson was the driving force for the visitors, kicking 17 points in total as they moved seven points clear at the top of the table.

Lansdowne were able to take advantage of second-placed Garryowen’s home defeat to Cork Constitution, despite a gutsy effort from Dolphin.

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The Cork outfit led 17-15 at half-time, mainly thanks to Harry Fleming’s converted try on the half hour and a 34th minute penalty from Barry Keeshan.

The lead changed hands early on as Ronaldson's 17th-minute penalty was cancelled out by James Kiernan's first league try following a terrific block by lock John Madigan. Keeshan knocked over the conversion.

But the headquarters club were devastating at times on turnover ball, breaking through for two tries in the space of four minutes.

Full-back and captain Ross McCarron ran onto a kick ahead to claim the first, taking advantage of a defensive slip from the Corkmen. Ronaldson converted and then young centre Mark Roche's mazy run resulted in a swift second try.

But Fleming’s score – with Sean Dougall and the fit-again Cian Bohane involved in the build-up – and a subsequent penalty from Keeshan, awarded for a fourth scrum penalty against Lansdowne, gave Dolphin a 17-15 advantage at the interval.

Ronaldson’s boot edged his side back in front though. He cleared the crossbar from 50 metres six minutes after the break and followed up with a surefooted 35-metre kick for a 21-17 scoreline.

The influential out-half added two more penalty goals approaching the 70-minute mark. There was some controversy about the latter one after a mix-up regarding a Dolphin replacement – Miah Cronin came on for Dolphin but the player he was replacing did not go off and they briefly had 16 players on the pitch.

The assistant referee alerted referee Olly Hodges, play was stopped and as the law indicates, the match was restarted with a penalty to Lansdowne. Ronaldson had no problem converting it for a 27-17 lead.

His opposite number Keeshan had the gap down to seven points again, with Lansdowne flanker Clive Ross sin-binned for pullng down Brian O'Callaghan in a lineout.

Tighthead prop James Cronin's late try raised hopes of Dolphin getting back on terms but the conversion was missed by Keeshan as Lansdowne held on by a slim margin.

Referee: Olly Hodges (IRFU)