LANSDOWNE moved an important step closer to capturing the Division 1A crown for the first time by recording an impressive 35-6 bonus-point victory over defending champions St Mary's College on the back pitch at the Aviva Stadium.
Their lead at the top of the table remains 14 points with just four series of games left.
Lansdowne have to win two of their final four games to be sure of the title. They will take on bottom side UL Bohs away next Saturday, before facing Clontarf, Old Belvedere and Shannon.
While their coach Mike Ruddock is understandably reluctant to get ahead of himself, the St Mary's coach Hugh Hogan is in absolutely no doubt that Lansdowne will capture the title.
"Lansdowne are very much the champions-elect," Hogan stressed. "They were emphatic against us today and they deserve to win the league."
It was the forwards who set up the victory over St Mary's. Lansdowne had tries from centre Simon Morrissey, No 8 Ron Boucher and flanker Charlie Butterworth, plus a penalty try.
Two of the scores came in the final seven minutes to make certain of the bonus. Out-half Craig Ronaldson was responsible for the remainder of the points, landing three penalties and three conversions.
Elsewhere, Clontarf continued their winning run with a runaway bonus-point 47-7 away success over UL Bohemians. They scored seven tries, with in-form wing Mick McGrath getting two of them.
They will take on a Dolphin team – who have moved into fourth spot following a 32-17 home victory over Shannon – at home next Saturday. The defeat means that Shannon drop down to second last in the table.
Old Belvedere moved up to third last after recording a surprise 15-12 Anglesea Road victory over Garryowen, with John Kennedy scoring two tries. The remaining Division 1A game saw Cork Constitution edge past Young Munster 10-9 at Clifford Park.
Ballynahinch continue to control matters at the head of Division 2A. They lead by nine points after trouncing Malone 58-3 at home.
The second spot now seems to rest between UCD and Dublin University.
UCD – successful 19-13 against Buccaneers at Belfield – head their student rivals by a point.
Dublin University won 12-7 away to Belfast Harlequins, while the remaining games saw Dungannon trounce Ballymena 51-0 in the relegation clash at Stevenson Park and Blackrock College get the better of struggling Bruff 21-15 at Stradbrook.