Sunday 19 November 2017

Lansdowne stop rot to seal home semi-final

Ulster Bank AIL round-up

Clontarf's Michael Brown scores a try Picture: INPHO/Tom Beary
Clontarf's Michael Brown scores a try Picture: INPHO/Tom Beary Newsdesk Newsdesk

Table-toppers Lansdowne and defending champions Clontarf will have home advantage in the Division 1A semi-finals after a tumultuous final round of fixtures.

Next weekend's semi-final clashes pit Lansdowne against Cork Constitution, who will defend their Bateman Cup title at Old Belvedere the following Saturday, and Clontarf host Young Munster at Castle Avenue.

Lansdowne finished top of the pile on scoring difference following their 40-17 bonus point dismissal of Garryowen, whose top-flight survival rests on the upcoming promotion/relegation play-offs.

Lansdowne were winless in the last four rounds but with Scott Deasy back at out-half, they led from the second minute onwards thanks to flanker Charlie Butterworth's try on the Aviva Stadium's back pitch. They had the bonus point secured by half-time, with Ireland under 20 hooker Tadgh McElroy touching down as the hosts built a 28-3 lead.

Tries from Ireland Students international Bailey Faloon and Steven McMahon lifted the Light Blues' spirits; their second-from-bottom finish means they host Old Wesley in Saturday's play-offs.

Lansdowne made sure they had the final say with two closing tries from Daniel McEvoy - the division's top try scorer with 11 - and Eamonn Mills.

Former Ireland under 20 international Conor O'Brien, who recently returned from injury, bagged two tries in Clontarf's action-packed 37-28 home win over UCD. The north Dubliners were 21-15 down at half-time, with Josh Murphy, Ciaran Frawley and Andy Marks notching tries for the students.

'Tarf got on top in the third quarter, moving ahead thanks to converted tries from centre O'Brien and out-half David Joyce, who also kicked 12 points. A try for workhorse flanker Tony Ryan, coupled with a Joyce penalty, made it 27 points without reply, before UCD prop Andrew Porter got a late consolation score.

Down at Temple Hill, there were tries aplenty too as Cork Con beat St Mary's College 34-27, with Ned Hodson and Michael Clune bagging braces.

Dublin University clawed clear of the relegation zone as a stunning last-minute try from Tim Maupin saw them overcome Terenure College 27-25 at College Park. The students were turned over in the dying minutes, and 'Nure kicked clear downfield. However, the Trinity backs had other ideas, countering at pace from their own 22 and putting USA international Maupin into space out wide for the game's decisive score.

Trinity director of rugby Tony Smeeth, whose young side finished sixth in the table, beamed: "It was just unbelievable. I didn't think we were going to win. That was the try of the year, that last one. You won't see many tries better than that in College Park."

Despite going down to that late try, Terenure also maintained their top flight status by finishing eighth, just a point above Garryowen. Former Leinster winger Sam Coghlan Murray was one of their three try scorers.

Munster centre Dan Goggin touched down twice in Young Munster's runaway 33-12 bonus-point victory at relegated Old Belvedere. The third-placed Cookies were coasting by half-time, leading 21-0. Teenage out-half Alan Tynan crossed the whitewash in between Goggin's well-taken brace.

Tynan kicked four conversions to add to a try double from prop Paul Allen in the second half, but their efforts were not enough to snatch home advantage in the play-offs. Belvo bowed out of the top flight with tries from scrum half Kyle McCarthy and replacement Eddie Weaver.

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