A Sean Carey penalty with the last kick of the game gave Lansdowne a deserved victory over Clontarf at Castle Avenue in a thrilling match.
Despite Lansdowne dominating long periods of the contest, it appeared as if Clontarf had stolen the points when Tadgh Furlong scored a try with three minutes remaining. Richie Lane missed the conversion and Clontarf were made pay when the referee adjudged Clontarf No 8 Frank Cogan to have gone off his feet allowing Carey to score the penalty from the 10-yard line to ensure Lansdowne remain on top of the table.
Clontarf played with a significant wind in the first half and Lane gave them an early lead with a straightforward penalty. Lansdowne hit back after 16 minutes when captain Ross McCarron touched down in front of the posts after a neat grubber kick through from Craig Ronaldson, who added the conversion.
Clontarf scored a try of their own just three minutes later, when winger Lane ran in unopposed from the '22' after good work by Sam Cronin created the overlap. Lane added the conversion and another penalty to give them a 13-7 lead at half-time. Lansdowne suffered a blow at the break when winger Cian Aherne, who has scored six tries in four matches to date, had to go off with a groin injury.
Lansdowne dominated the second half and took the lead on the hour with a great forwards' try. The Lansdowne pack won a line-out outside the '22' and had a great rolling maul which finished with Clive Ross, cousin of Ireland international Mike, getting the touchdown. Carey added the extra two points with a conversion from a difficult angle.
He also added a penalty five minutes later, giving Lansdowne a 17-13 lead with 15 minutes remaining. It appeared at this stage that Lansdowne would push on and extend their lead as they had dominated the second half using the wind to their advantage with some clever kicking. However, a great break by Mick McGrath for Clontarf with three minutes remaining brought them deep into the Lansdowne '22' and, after concerted pressure, to the delight of the home fans, Furlong scored the try in the corner. Clontarf must have thought they had a third win in a row only to be denied by Carey's late intervention.
CLONTARF -- T McCoy; R Lane, N Myron, E Ryan, M McGrath; D Fitzpatrick, S Cronin; R Burke-Flynn, C O'Flynn, T Furlong; B Reilly, T Byrne; M Garvey, A D'Arcy, F Cogan.
LANSDOWNE -- R McCarron; C Aherne, T Daly, S Carey, F Horan; C Ronaldson, P O'Driscoll; J O'Connell, T Sexton, M Moore; T Beirne, W Earl; K Essex, C Ross, C Butterworth.
REF -- P Fitzgibbon (IRFU).