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Old Belvedere Maintain Table-Topping Form

Old Belvedere Maintain Table-Topping Form

Old Belvedere had to battle hard to see off a gutsy Garryowen side as they posted their fifth successive victory in All-Ireland League Division 1A.

The scoreline of 24-3 was not a true reflection of the closely-fought affair at Anglesea Road, with late tries from number 8 Leo Auv'a and winger David Mongan sealing a somewhat flattering win for the hosts.

Garryowen's second half efforts deserved some reward, but their back-line lacked the clinical edge to convert territory and pressure into points.

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Old Belvedere, who have maintained their three-point lead at the top of the table, took the lead after five minutes courtesy of a Conal Keane penalty. The opening points came about after an excellent break by former Ireland Under-20 prop Stewart Maguire.

Garryowen had the chance to take the lead when out-half Declan Cusack intercepted Auv'a's pass but he did not have the legs to go all the way.

Cusack drew the sides level on 22 minutes after Garryowen were rewarded for a bout of forward pressure near the 'Belvo try-line.

The resulting restart forced a knock-on from Garryowen, and the home side duly capitalised, using the scrum to good effect and moving the ball through the back-line to winger Eddie Devitt who easily went past a sluggish Garryowen defence to dot down.

Keane's accurate conversion against a strong wind put 'Belvo 10-3 ahead for half-time.

Phil Werahiko's charges grew in confidence and occasionally threatened the Light Blues through the ball-carrying abilities of Auv'a, Mongan and flanker Jason Risdon. Cusack had an opportunity to reduce the deficit on the stroke of half-time but he stroked a long range effort just to the left of the posts.

The opening exchanges of the second half failed to inspire much excitement from the crowd as both sides were guilty of several unforced errors.

However, Garryowen were a renewed side in the second half and Paul Cunningham's men had some of the best chances of the half – including a fine break from centre Corey Hircock who blitzed the 'Belvo defence and popped to Cian O'Shea but the winger was driven into touch just short of the line.

Cusack came desperately close with a snap drop goal attempt in the 66th minute, but his kick sailed to the right of the posts.

The home side then regained control in the final ten minutes and the impressive Risdon pushed a nice grubber kick into the visitors' 22 which was knocked into touch by Garryowen scrum half Aran Healy.

Off the back of the lineout, Risdon tapped the ball down to Auv'a at the rear and he ran in for a soft try which dashed any hopes of a comeback from Garryowen.

'Belvo were handed another chance only three minutes later when they won a lineout inside Garryowen's half. The ball was passed out along the line to Mongan who used his blistering pace to race past two defenders and touch down in the corner.

Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU)