CORK CONSTITUTION 25 LANSDOWNE 13, Temple Hill
Tomas Quinlan's unerring left boot condemned Ulster Bank League Division 1A leaders Lansdowne to only their second defeat of the season as Cork Constitution triumphed 25-13 at Temple Hill this afternoon.
Quinlan's classy 20-point haul from the tee, which included six penalty goals, proved vital as third-placed Cork Con kept pace with their play-off rivals, albeit that Terenure College's bonus point return at Garryowen has increased their lead in second by a single point to two - 49 versus 47.
Second row Brian Hayes muscled through for an opening 11th-minute try via a Liam O'Connell pass. Young number 10 Quinlan also landed two first half penalties which former Cork Con player Scott Deasy matched, keeping Lansdowne within range at 13-6 down at half-time.
The platform supplied by the hard work of Hayes and the home pack saw Constitution press on for further scores, with their scrum getting on top. Lansdowne's indiscipline was punished by Quinlan penalties after 42, 46 and 53 minutes. They could have had a second try by that stage, but young Munster 'A' back rower Evan Mintern had the ball dislodged from his grasp.
Lansdowne, who had beaten the Leesiders 24-10 at home in October, hit back with a try from replacement Greg McGrath with 10 minutes remaining.
Deasy's conversion reduced the arrears to 22-13, only for Quinlan to close the door on any potential comeback with a well-struck final penalty in the 80th minute. It was the table toppers' second loss in three matches but a home semi-final is still well within their reach, given they have an eight-point buffer with three rounds remaining.
CORK CONSTITUTION: Liam O’Connell; JJ O’Neill, Alex McHenry, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Tomas Quinlan, Gerry Hurley; Brendan Quinlan, Gordon Good, Ger Sweeney, Conor Kindregan, Brian Hayes, Evan Mintern, Ross O’Neill, Luke Cahill.
Replacements: Dylan Murphy, Gavin Duffy, Joe McSwiney, Jason Higgins, Michael Clune.
LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills; Daniel McEvoy, Harry Brennan, Mark O’Keefe, Adam Leavy; Scott Deasy, Alan Bennie; Ian Prendiville (capt), Tyrone Moran, Adam Boland, Jack Dwan, Oisin Dowling, Aaron Conneely, Charlie Butterworth, Willie Earle.
Replacements: Greg McGrath, JJ Earle, Josh O’Rourke, Gareth Molloy, Tom Roche.
GARRYOWEN 13 TERENURE COLLEGE 29, Dooradoyle
Meanwhile, in-form Terenure kept their hold of second place in the top flight standings by clinically dispatching Garryowen 29-13 at Dooradoyle today in what was the Light Blues' first defeat in four rounds.
James Blaney's men outscored their hosts by four tries to one as they took a step closer to a home semi-final. It is nip and tuck between Terenure (49 points) and defending champions Cork Con (47), while Clontarf (43) and Garryowen (42) also remain in the hunt for the play-offs.
Garryowen hit the front with an early penalty from captain Neil Cronin, but backs James O'Donoghue and Marc Hiney both touched down for a 15-6 Terenure lead at the break.
Captain Robbie Smyth and Jake Swaine added their sixth tries of the campaign, and 'Nure successfully kept the Limerick side out while down to 14 men.
A 70th minute try from replacement Sean Rennison was Garryowen's only consolation. Terenure fielded all five of their Ireland Club international players - Smyth, Swaine, Mark O'Neill and influential locks Michael Melia and Alex Thompson - ahead of next Friday's trip to Netherdale to play Scotland.
GARRYOWEN: Andrew O’Byrne; Liam Coombes, Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham, Dave McCarthy, James McInerney; Jamie Gavin, Neil Cronin (capt); Niall Horan, Liam Cronin, Andy Keating, Sean O’Connor, Dean Moore, Tim Ferguson, Jack Daly, Mikey Wilson.
Replacements: Robert Meyer, Ben Rowley, Sean Rennison, Darren Ryan, Paul Clancy.
TERENURE COLLEGE: Matthew Byrne; Jake Swaine, Marc Hiney, Robbie Carroll, Sam Coghlan Murray; Mark O’Neill, Kevin O’Neill; Cian Madden, Robbie Smyth (capt), Schalk Jooste, Michael Melia, Alex Thompson, Cathal Deans, Harrison Brewer, Eoin Joyce.
Replacements: Adam Clarkin, Kieran Moloney, Robert Duke, Kaleikumaka Konrad, James O’Donoghue.
BUCCANEERS 7 CLONTARF 33, Dubarry Park (played on Friday)
Clontarf are back in the top four thanks to a 33-7 bonus point victory away to Buccaneers. Centre Matt D'Arcy bagged his eighth try of the league run and Sean O'Brien, Jack Power, Dylan Donnellan and Michael Noone, who is part of the Ireland Club XV squad along with D'Arcy, also crossed the whitewash.
BUCCANEERS: Callum Boland; Darragh Corbett, Shane Layden (capt), Ben Carty, Rory O'Connor; Luke Carty, Graham Lynch; Martin Staunton, John Sutton, Conor Kenny, Daniel Law, Ruairi Byrne, Simon Meagher, Evan Galvin, Paul Boyle.
Replacements: Rory Grenham, Conan O'Donnell, Brian Diffley, Frankie Hopkins, Alan Gaughan.
CLONTARF: Jack Power; James McKeown, Conor O'Brien, Matt D'Arcy, Sean O'Brien; David Joyce, Andrew Feeney; Ivan Soroka, Dylan Donnellan, Royce Burke-Flynn, Tom Byrne, Ben Reilly (capt), Tony Ryan, Vincent Gavin, Michael Noone.
Replacements: Jonathan Larbey, James Doyle, Ken Knaggs, Mark O'Sullivan, Ariel Robles.