Lansdowne set up title climax
LANSDOWNE have put themselves in position to capture the League Division 1A title next Saturday following a 42-7 bonus-point success over UL Bohemians at Annacotty.
Potentially, Lansdowne could make certain of finishing top with a losing bonus point against second-placed Clontarf on the back pitch at the Aviva Stadium. But the obvious target is to claim the title with another victory.
Lansdowne lead the table by 19 points. Clontarf have a game in hand after their home fixture against Dolphin was postponed but, realistically, there is no chance of them overtaking their rivals.
To do so, they would have to win all of their last four games with bonus points and for Lansdowne to collapse. It's not going to happen.
But at least the competition has been provided with a potential climax. Almost certainly, Clontarf are going to provide Lansdowne with one of their biggest tests of the season.
Saturday's match against bottom side UL Bohs was decided by half-time. Lansdowne dominated to lead 28-0 at the interval with centre Simon Morrissey, out-half Craig Ronaldson and replacement scrum-half Marcus Walsh all scoring tries.
The impressive Ronaldson kicked two conversions and landed three penalties. Unfortunately, UL Bohs didn't help their cause by having two players, out-half JJ Hanrahan and flanker Ian Condell, sin-binned.
They did at least make a better fight of it with the wind behind them in the second half. Admittedly, Lansdowne had to reshuffle their back division with full-back Ross McCarron, wing Forster Horan and Ronaldson all going off injured.
Initially, Lansdowne made certain of the bonus point with a penalty try following a collapsed scrum, converted by substitute Ed Torrie.
Down 35-0, UL Bohs could have completely caved in but they produced their best spell of the game for Sean Rennison to score a try, which Ben Martin converted.
They could have got another but it was Lansdowne who had the last word with their fifth try from No 8 Ron Boucher. Torrie, one of three former UL Bohs players in the Lansdowne set-up, added the conversion.
The concern for coach Mike Ruddock is that his injured players are fit for next Saturday. Horan looks the most doubtful.
"That's the worry," admitted Ruddock. "We put a lot of effort in today against a very passionate team fighting for their lives and it cost us some key players. We are not really sure about the extent of the injuries at the moment."
UL Bohs remain three points behind second-from-bottom Shannon but have played a game more. They desperately need to secure a victory over Young Munster at Clifford Park on Friday.
Third-from-bottom Old Belvedere picked up two key points, despite losing 37-32 to Cork Constitution at Temple Hill in the second Division 1A game played on Saturday. Besides securing a losing bonus point, they managed to score four tries through Daniel Riordan, Kieran O'Gorman, Jonathan Slattery and John Kennedy.
Cork Con, now fourth, also crossed for four tries through John Ryan, Darragh Lyons, Andrew Cudmore and Alex Ryan. Crucially, Johnny Holland was in top-class form with the boot, landing all four conversions and kicking three penalties.