Wednesday 24 January 2018

Noone hat-trick keeps Clontarf's double bid on track

UCD’s Andy Marks is tackled by Garryowen’s Ronan O’Halloran at Dooradoyle
UCD’s Andy Marks is tackled by Garryowen’s Ronan O’Halloran at Dooradoyle

Michael Noone was Clontarf's hat-trick hero as the Ulster Bank League champions continued their quest for back-to-back titles with a 36-13 bonus point win at Old Belvedere.

Three tries from No 8 Noone, combined with scores from backs Sean Long and Matt D'Arcy, saw fourth-placed 'Tarf keep pace with their play-off rivals and condemn struggling Belvedere to their fourth consecutive defeat - they are now bottom of the Division 1A table on scoring difference.

Eddie O'Sullivan's recent arrival at Anglesea Road as a coaching consultant has yet to coincide with improved results for 'Belvo, and the pre-match withdrawal of Daniel Riordan, who was due to start at out-half, proved a significant blow.

Garryowen, meanwhile, climbed back into the top half of the Division 1A table thanks to a gritty 17-16 victory over UCD at Dooradoyle.

Ireland under 20 squad member Peadar Collins, playing at outside-centre, crossed for the match-winning try in the 62nd minute despite the Light Blues losing second-row Barra O'Byrne to the sin-bin.

It was a never-say-die performance from Conan Doyle's side who suffered a yellow card in each half but kept their discipline at vital stages as UCD mounted attack after attack.

Elsewhere, Dublin University endured a seven-try drubbing at the hands of leaders Lansdowne, who galloped to a 45-3 bonus point win on the Aviva Stadium's back pitch.

Lansdowne's record league scorer Scott Deasy ran in a try and kicked five conversions to take his season's haul to 142 points, as Mike Ruddock's men stretched their lead to seven points.

Trinity director of rugby Tony Smeeth had dubbed this 'the ultimate test' for his young side, but despite a positive start - with Jack McDermott, who recently returned from a shoulder injury, landing a fifth-minute penalty - there was no let up from the Lansdowne pack.

Tyrone Moran's pushover score on the hour mark racked up their ninth try-scoring bonus point of the campaign and with Trinity's error count increasing, the hosts again took full advantage with winger Daniel McEvoy running in his 10th league try and centre Mark Roche wrapping up the scoring in the 79th minute.

Trinity's fifth defeat in six league games leaves them just three points off the bottom. They are a much better side than this result suggests and their March 4 date with Garryowen at College Park has 'must win' written all over it.

In other games, Munster centre Cian Bohane bagged a brace of tries as Young Munster edged out St Mary's 20-18 in a cracking contest at Tom Clifford Park.

Bohane was in inspirational form for the Cookies, salvaging the win for the home side with a try under the posts in the very last play and teenage out-half Alan Tynan added the all-important conversion.

It was Bohane's fourth try in as many games and it saved the play-off hopefuls from their second successive defeat, which would have left them a full 10 points behind leaders Lansdowne and just a point clear of third-placed Cork Constitution.

As things stand, Gearoid Prendergast's side still have a four-point advantage over Con in the race for a home semi-final berth.

Meanwhile, their late dose of heartbreak in Greenfields has seen St Mary's slip to sixth overall. Smarting from last week's home loss to Terenure, Munsters were determined to avoid such a scenario again. They went in 10-3 to the good at the interval, when, after the teams traded penalties, Bohane carved St Mary's open.

Mary's forwards forced the issue on the resumption and with help from their bench,edged the visitors back in front. But the battle-hardened Cookies went for broke, towards the end, turning down a couple of penalty shots before Bohane found a gap and drove the hosts to a last-gasp success.

Cork Constitution erased a seven-point half-time deficit as they triumphed 16-10 at Lakelands Park yesterday, in a keenly-contested game to end Terenure's three-match winning run.

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