THE goalkicking of Jamie Gavin proved crucial as Garryowen beat St Mary's College 28-20 at Dooradoyle to move to the top of Division 1A.
Both sides scored three tries with Conan Doyle, Cian O'Shea and Shane Buckley going over for Garryowen, who led 18-0 at one stage in the first half.
St Mary's fought back with tries from Ciaran Ruddock, Matt D'Arcy and Kurt Haupt but the goalkicking of Gavin kept Garryowen in front. The out-half landed three penalties and converted two tries.
With Lansdowne losing to Young Munster, Garryowen go two points clear at the top. Next up is a tough trip to Cork Constitution when the league resumes on January 5.
Cork Con are in fourth spot, trailing third-placed Young Munster on points difference. They recorded a 23-15 home win over Shannon, with scrum-half Gerry Hurley scoring a vital second-half try.
Despite an improved performance, Shannon still lie eight points adrift at the bottom. UL Bohs are now second last after losing 19-9 at home to Dolphin.
Ballynahinch moved four points clear at the top of Division 1B following their 55-3 annihilation of Bruff at Ballymacarn Park. They scored seven tries to make it seven wins out of seven. Surprisingly, second-placed Dublin University went down to their first defeat, 25-23 at Buccaneers. Kolo Kiripati was the hero for the home side, scoring two of their four tries.
The victory means that Buccaneers are in third. Elsewhere, UCD recovered from their drubbing by Dublin University with a 36-18 home victory over Dungannon – with a hat-trick of tries from full-back Andy Boyle. Ballymena beat fellow strugglers Blackrock College 23-18 at Stradbrook.