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Impressive first half display sends Dundalk on their way to crucial win

Dundalk 29 Suttonians 24

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Jonathon Williams gets a great pass away to Laurence Steen while under pressure from Ashbourne's Brian Digan. Photo: Ken Finegan/www.newspics.ie

Jonathon Williams gets a great pass away to Laurence Steen while under pressure from Ashbourne's Brian Digan. Photo: Ken Finegan/www.newspics.ie

Jonathon Williams gets a great pass away to Laurence Steen while under pressure from Ashbourne's Brian Digan. Photo: Ken Finegan/www.newspics.ie

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Dundalk will travel to league leaders Monkstown on Saturday buoyed by their third Division 1A win of the campaign.

Dave Fearon’s side ran in a bonus point victory at home to Suttonians last weekend as they returned from the Christmas break with a morale-boosting triumph. 

Entering on the back of a seven-match losing streak, the Mill Road men produced their best half of rugby this season during the opening 40 minutes and took a 29-5 lead to half-time. 

Centre Ultan Murphy kicked the game’s opening points from the penalty spot and while the visitors crossed to move 5-3 in front, Dundalk played all the rugby for the remainder of the first half. 

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Captain Tiernan Gonnelly drove his way across the tryline on 19 minutes, as Dundalk made full use of a turnover deep in Suttonians territory, and when Murphy followed up with the extras, the winners had a 10-5 lead.

The gap grew nine minutes later when breakthrough star Darragh Maher streamrolled a string of tacklers and touched down – Murphy made it 17-5 off the tee.

Head coach Fearon’s men were relentless and from another break, some sharp ruck play ended with Laurence Steen getting in on the try-scoring act as a further seven points were tallied.

The hosts were cruising and forcing Suttonians wide when they did come forward – Jonathan Williams, Murphy and Dave Symes were very strong defensively in the central part of the pitch. 

Just before the break, Dundalk crossed for a fourth try – Derek Williams the registrar after more good play by the pack. 

Game management was the priority for the second period, but the slippery ball proved elusive as Suttonians gradually gained a foothold over proceedings. A converted try brought the Dubliners to within 17 points and when they went over again, the lead was cut to 12.

Several sloppy knock-ons were getting the home side on edge and Andrew Williams’ yellow card certainly didn’t ease the nerves of the Dundalk congregation, especially after Suttonians got their fourth try, which was converted. 

The clock was in Dundalk’s favour, however, as they moved away from basement dwellers Ashbourne and into fifth.

Dundalk: Stephen McGivern, Seán Arrowsmith, Simon O’Shea; Ben Mortimer, Darragh Maher; Ryan McShane, Laurence Steen, Tiernan Gonnelly; Jack Hughes, Jonathan Williams; Ultan Murphy, Dave Symes, Andrew Williams, Robert Williams, Derek Williams

Replacements: Zak Coen, Conor Williams, Greg Whatley, Darragh Conroy, Stephen Murphy


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