Clontarf 19-8 UCD, Castle Avenue
Clontarf returned to winning ways at Castle Avenue this afternoon with a hard-earned 19-8 success against UCD in a tense Ulster Bank League Division 1A encounter.

Tom Byrne, Ariel Robles and Tony Ryan all helped themselves to tries, as the hosts registered their first victory of 2018 and put recent reversals to leaders Lansdowne and Young Munster behind them.

UCD had drifted away from the foot of the table with a 17-14 triumph over Buccaneers last weekend, which also brought their four-game losing streak to an abrupt end. Yet, with experienced performers like David Joyce and Ryan in their side, it was the hosts who started the contest on the front foot.

Clontarf spread the ball effectively into the wide channels where Rob McGrath and James McKeown provided strong attacking outlets. An opening try appeared on the cards when Joyce kicked to the corner from an early penalty. The students dug deep under pressure, though, and disciplined defensive work eventually secured them a five-metre scrum.

Indeed, the visitors had an ideal opportunity to break the deadlock in the 15th minute, but young out-half Matthew Gilsenan's long-range penalty effort rebounded off a post and into the waiting arms of Clontarf centre Matt D'Arcy.

Alongside Robles in midfield, D'Arcy helped to drive the north Dubliners into UCD territory as the first half wore on. They finally broke the visitors' resistance in the 32nd minute when lock Byrne touched down after racing through a gap on the left. Joyce added the simple conversion.

Andy Wood's men doubled their advantage to 14-0 in lightning quick time. Before UCD had a chance to settle, McGrath broke free on the right wing, and although he was halted just shy of the line, the alert Robles gathered the loose ball to cross over in the corner.

There was enough time for UCD to open their account courtesy of a Gilsenan place-kick before the break. They breathed a sigh of relief when Joyce pushed a 46th-minute penalty wide before Garry Ringrose's younger brother Jack began to make an impact for Andy Skehan's youngsters.

After an enterprising attack on the left, former Blackrock College scrum half Patrick Patterson powered over the line for an encouraging try. A tricky breeze ensured that Gilsenan fell short with his conversion attempt. Crucially, Clontarf produced a strong response to this concession and wrestled back control on the 4G surface.

The ever-impressive Ryan took advantage of some slack defending on UCD's part to dot down in the 65th minute. Conor Kelly replaced Joyce in the final quarter, and he was narrowly off target with the conversion. Ryan's score had 'Tarf in a commanding position with an 11-point lead and they duly sewed up their eighth victory of the campaign.

CLONTARF: Jack Power; Rob McGrath, Ariel Robles, Matt D'Arcy, James McKeown; David Joyce, Andrew Feeney; Ivan Soroka, Dylan Donnellan, Royce Burke–Flynn, Tom Byrne, Ben Reilly (capt), Tony Ryan, Vincent Gavin, Michael Noone.

Replacements: Declan Adamson, Neil Reilly, Ken Knaggs, Sam Cronin, Conor Kelly.

UCD: Steven Kilgallen; Rob Keenan, Jamie Glynn (capt), Colm Mulcahy, Oisin O'Meara; Matthew Gilsenan, Patrick Patterson; Rory Mulvihill, Sean McNulty, Liam Hyland, Emmet McMahon, Keelan McKenna, Ronan Foley, Alex Penny, Stephen McVeigh.

Replacements: Gordon Frayne, Michael Moynihan, Brian Cawley, Nick Peters, Jack Ringrose.

Garryowen 24-16 Lansdowne, Dooradoyle
Lansdowne’s 12-match unbeaten run, which lasted almost five months, came to an end at Dooradoyle where captain Neil Cronin inspired Garryowen’s 24-16 win over the Division 1A leaders.

Scrum half Cronin kicked 14 points from the tee as the Light Blues did what no other club has achieved so far this season, and in the process closed to within four points of the top four.

Cronin opened the scoring with a sixth minute penalty and converted winger James McInerney’s try ten minutes later, as the Limerick men stormed out of the blocks in pursuit of their first victory in three rounds.

Two more Cronin penalties cancelled out Scott Deasy’s 20th-minute opener for Lansdowne, but despite a Cronin interception breaking up a promising spell from the visitors, they touched down on the stroke of half-time through elusive winger Foster Horan.

Mike Ruddock’s men appeared to be turning the screw as a penalty for offside allowed Deasy to make it a five-point game at 16-11, early in the second period.

Number 8 Willie Earle’s unconverted try from a maul had Lansdowne level but Cronin came up trumps for Garryowen in the closing stages. Ten minutes from the end, he kicked them back in front, and when he ripped the ball back inside his own half, Cronin’s efforts were followed by a strong run from Tim Ferguson who fed Liam Coombes to finish off in the corner.

The result not only lifted the Light Blues back into the play-off picture, with a game in hand, it did others a favour too as the chasing pack - led by Cork Constitution - are now 11 points behind Lansdowne with five rounds of the regular season remaining.

GARRYOWEN: Andrew O'Byrne; Liam Coombes, Hugh O'Brien-Cunningham, Peadar Collins, James McInerney; Jamie Gavin, Neil Cronin (capt); Niall Horan, Liam Cronin, Andy Keating, Darren Ryan, Dean Moore, Sean Rennison, Jack Daly, Bailey Faloon.

Replacements: Robert Meyer, JP Phelan, Tim Ferguson, Roy Whelan, Bryan Fitzgerald.

LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills; Foster Horan, Harry Brennan, Fergal Cleary, Adam Leavy; Scott Deasy, Charlie Rock; Greg McGrath, JJ Earle, Ian Prendiville (capt), Josh O'Rourke, Oisin Dowling, Jack O'Sullivan, Aaron Conneely, Willie Earle.

Buccaneers 20-214 Terenure College, Dubarry Park
Buccaneers' luckless run at the bottom of Division 1A continued as Terenure College came from behind to take a 24-20 verdict at Dubarry Park.

Having broken into a 20-3 lead for half-time, Buccs lost their way in the second half as converted tries from full-back James O’Donoghue and replacements Robbie Smyth and Robert Duke saw ‘Nure pinch the spoils.

Although they were missing their top try scorer Rory O’Connor, Darin Claasen’s underdogs made the most of their scoring chances in the first half with former Ireland Under-20 captain Paul Boyle standing out in the pack.

Boyle’s Connacht Academy colleague Luke Carty was another key figure, lobbing over two penalty goals and converting well-taken tries from Evan Galvin and Darragh Corbett, who showed a clean pair of heels to the Terenure cover.

But too often this season, Buccs have lulled at crucial stages in matches and the interval came at just the right time for ‘Nure, who regrouped and returned to the form which saw them run leaders Lansdowne very close last Saturday.

James Blaney sent on regular captain Smyth and Duke from the bench and the pair had the desired impact, lifting the forwards who grounded out the yards for Smyth to notch his fifth try of the campaign.

James Thornton, another key replacement, nailed all three conversions as O’Donoghue and Duke also took advantage of the gaps that appeared in the Buccs defence.

The result keeps Terenure in third place and hot on the heels of Cork Constitution in the battle for a home semi-final, while bottom side Buccs had to console themselves with a losing bonus point which has closed the gap on Dublin University to seven points.

BUCCANEERS: Alan Gaughan; Darragh Corbett, Shane Layden (capt), Ben Carty, Dean McMahon; Luke Carty, Graham Lynch; Martin Staunton, John Sutton, Conan O'Donnell, Ruairi Byrne, Cian Romaine, Dan Law, Evan Galvin, Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Rory Grenham, Brian Diffley, Rossa Dooley, Frankie Hopkins, Eoin O'Reilly.

TERENURE COLLEGE: James O’Donoghue; Jake Swaine, Stephen O'Neill, Marc Hiney, Sam Coghlan Murray; Mark O'Neill, Kevin O'Neill; Cian Madden, Adam Clarkin, Schalk Jooste, Michael Melia, Alex Thompson, Cathal Deans, Harrison Brewer, Eoin Joyce.

Replacements: Robbie Smyth, Killian Bolger, Robert Duke, James Thornton, Robbie Carroll.

Cork Constitution 41-6 Dublin University, Temple Hill
Cork Constitution cut loose in the closing stages as they tallied up six tries in a 41-6 bonus point dismissal of Dublin University at Temple Hill today.

It was second against second-from-bottom, with Con looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat at St. Mary’s who lost to Trinity in the previous round.

The students’ game last week against Garryowen was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, and the Leesiders stole a march on them with wily scrum half Gerry Hurley and centre Ned Hodson crossing for tries.

A lone penalty from Jack McDermott kept the visitors just about in contention at 15-3, and they improved on the resumption with flanker Sam Pim breaking through from halfway and McDermott mopping up with another three-pointer.

However, Constitution put the outcome beyond doubt with a brace of tries from lively winger Rob Jermyn after 55 and 72 minutes, the hosts ensuring they turned sustained pressure into points.

Brian Hickey’s charges added a final flourish with two more scores, a high tackle from Trinity full-back James Moriarty seeing him concede a penalty try and be sent to the sin-bin. There was still time for prop Ger Sweeney to get on the scoresheet with full-back Liam O’Connell adding his second conversion.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Liam O'Connell; Alex McHenry, Ned Hodson, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Gerry Hurley; Brendan Quinlan, Vincent O'Brien, Ger Sweeney, Conor Kindregan, Brian Hayes, Joe McSwiney, Ross O'Neill, Luke Cahill.

Replacements: Max Abbott, Gavin Duffy, Graeme Lawler, Jason Higgins, Michael Clune.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: James Moriarty; Evan Dixon, Michael Courtney (capt), Kyle Dixon, Seb Fromm; James McDermott, Angus Lloyd; James Bollard, Paddy Finlay, Joe Byrne, Jack Burke, Alex McDonald, Reuben Pim, Sam Pim, David St. Leger.

St Mary's College 26-38 Young Munster, Templeville Road 
Young Munster made it four victories on the trot against St. Mary’s College in an action-packed clash at Templeville Road where both sides claimed try-scoring bonus points.

Attacking rugby was the order of the day as Mary’s and Munsters swapped a flurry of tries, ten in all with former Ireland Under-18 Clubs captain Evan O’Gorman notching two as the visitors triumphed 38-26.

Two points was the difference at the interval, Alan Tynan’s conversions of scores from Jack Lyons and Dan Walsh seeing them lead 14-12 with Cathal O’Flaherty and in-form full-back Dave Fanagan touching down for the Dubliners.

With their front five, including Munster lock Fineen Wycherley, getting on top, the Cookies seized control in the third quarter and built an unassailable 33-12 lead thanks to further tries from flanker Alan Kennedy and O’Gorman who looks a good prospect at centre.

Credit to Mary’s, they made sure they took something from the game with closing tries from teenage flanker Ronan Watters and out-half Sean Kearns who finished with 11 points. Joseph O’Connor also crossed the whitewash late on for Munsters who won for the second week running in the capital.

ST. MARY'S COLLEGE: Dave Fanagan; Craig Kennedy, Darren Moroney, Marcus O'Driscoll, Myles Carey; Sean Kearns, Paddy O'Driscoll; Tom O'Reilly, Richard Halpin, Adam Coyle, Ciaran Ruddock (capt), Cathal O'Flaherty, David O'Connor, Ronan Watters, Nick McCarthy.

Replacements: Hugo Kean, Emmet Ferron, Ian Cullinane, Robbie Glynn, Matthew Timmons, Brendan Cullinane.

YOUNG MUNSTER: Jason Kiely; Joseph O'Connor, Ben Swindlehurst, Evan O'Gorman, Craig O'Hanlon; Alan Tynan, Jack Lyons; Peter Meyer, Ger Slattery, Colm Skehan, Tom Goggin, Fineen Wycherley, Alan Kennedy, Dan Walsh, Ben Kilkenny (capt).

Replacements: Mark O'Mara, Conor Bartley, Alan Ross, Ronan Murphy, Robert Guerin.