Leinster Club Rugby: Malahide stretch their lead
Malahide have opened up a significant eight-point advantage over their nearest pursuers Enniscorthy following contrasting results for the Leinster League Division 1A top of the table protagonists on Saturday.
Malahide overcame a stern away challenge with a 17-3 win in Ashbourne, while Enniscorthy stumbled to their second defeat in succession, this time losing 24-0 away to 2014-'15 champions Dundalk.
As they did when the two sides met in September, Ashbourne struck first in the return meeting at Milltown House last Saturday afternoon but that's where the similarities between the two games ended.
In the first encounter Malahide subsequently ran riot, scoring 11 tries as they poured 71 points onto their Meath visitors but this time around they were made to work extremely hard for their three-try victory.
A pair of tries midway through the first half scored by full-back Dave Mongan established a 12-3 interval lead for the north county Dubliners and the victory was sealed when flank forward John Shine touched down for a late try.
After a tough loss a week earlier in Malahide, Saturday's shock defeat by Dundalk has suddenly derailed Enniscorthy's defence of their Division 1A crown.
The Louth side scored first-half tries from wing-forwards Cole Stewart and Stephen Martin as they raced into an impregnable 17-0 lead at the break and when centre Laurence Steen dotted down for another on the resumption the Co Wexford club's title aspirations were suddenly in tatters.
Monkstown scored a badly-needed 26-20 bonus-point home win at Sydney Parade against Kilkenny to move off the bottom of the table courtesy of their better head to head record against their Marble City opponents who now drop into the basement although both teams are level on 10 points.
Full-back Gareth Murray was the star performer as he bagged a hat-trick of tries, while replacement prop James Clifford grabbed the other try for the Dublin 4 side who had led 15-11 at half-time. Gorey travelled to Kilternan and came away from Kirwan Park with a 25-16 win over De La Salle Palmerston as they eased their relegation worries.
Centres Gary Rynhart and James Nolan scored tries in the opening period which helped the visitors into a 12-8 interval lead while the Wexford club's win was secured after the break on the accurate goal kicking of Nolan and a further try from scrum-half Conor Butler.
Tomorrow in the final series of games before the Christmas break Malahide welcome third-placed De La Salle Palmerston to Estuary Road while Enniscorthy will try to bounce back to winning ways at home in Ross Road against fifth-placed Ashbourne.
Division 1B pacesetters Wicklow were frustrated when a floodlighting failure, following a delayed start to their home fixture with North Kildare, led to the game being abandoned and on Sunday they welcome Tullow to Ashtown Lane.