Winger Rob McGrath ran in two terrific tries as Clontarf registered their second victory of the Ulster Bank League Division 1A campaign against 14-man Old Belvedere.
2013/14 champions Clontarf, who are hoping to reclaim their league crown following last May's narrow final defeat to Lansdowne, opened the new season with a 24-16 triumph over UCD in Belfield seven days ago.
The addition of Ireland Under-20 starlet Joey Carbery is proving to be a major plus for Clontarf head coach Andy Wood, but with former Young Munster and Terenure College out-half Willie Staunton added to their ranks this term, Old Belvedere recorded an impressive 27-8 home success over Terenure in the opening round.
With Michael Oyuga and captain Jonathan Slattery providing great leadership, the 'Belvo scrum had the hosts under pressure during the early exchanges at Castle Avenue. Indeed, when Slattery made a strong burst from deep in the 12th minute, it looked like the visitors were going to create an opening through the heart of the 'Tarf defence.
However, Paul Cunningham's men were eventually turned over, and after gathering the ball just inside his own half, right winger Rob McGrath raced through for a well-taken breakaway try. Carbery, who put in some intelligent tactical kicking, made no mistake with the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
The former Blackrock College student was off target with a penalty five minutes later but as the first half progressed, 'Tarf were beginning to play with confidence. Yet, the 27th minute sin-binning of full-back Rob Keogh following a heavy tackle on Belvedere winger Shane McDonald was a setback for the home side. Place-kicker McDonald duly opened his side's account from the resulting penalty.
Although the loss of Keogh certainly took some of the sting out of the 'Tarf play, 'Belvo flanker Karl Miller picked up a red card for dangerous play – an apparent head butt – just five minutes before the interval. McDonald dropped a penalty effort short of the posts as 'Tarf took a 7-3 advantage into the second half.
The absence of Miller was keenly felt by 'Belvo and when scrum half Aaron Sheehan was sin-binned in the opening attack after the restart, they were temporarily reduced to 13 men.
Carbery calmly slotted the penalty between the posts, but despite being up against it for the majority of the half, Cunningham's side coped admirably in the face of extreme adversity. McDonald added to his personal tally with a 47th minute penalty and he split the posts with 25 minutes remaining, reducing the arrears to a single point (10-9).
However, Clontarf, who were out for revenge after losing twice to Belvedere last season, never showed any signs of panicking. Just past the hour mark, a second successful penalty from Carbery offered them some breathing space.
Belvedere had an opportunity to once again eat into the lead, but centre Steve Crosbie's long range penalty attempt drifted agonisingly wide of the left upright. This was something of a let-off for 'Tarf, and they responded in some style with Rob McGrath's second try of the night.
It was another piece of individual brilliance from the winger, who exploited space inside the 'Belvo half and broke clear to touch down to the left of the posts. His two-try haul matched his brother Mick's brace from the UCD game.
Carbery's successful conversion meant that 11 points now separated the sides. Even still, prop Ivan Soroka's 73rd-minute sin-binning saw 'Tarf lose the advantage of a spare man for the closing stages.
Following much persistence, a neat Crosbie offload enabled Rory O'Loughlin to cross the whitewash for an unconverted effort on the stroke of 80 minutes, giving his side a losing bonus point to back across the Liffey.
Referee: Gary Conway (IRFU)