Students top after passing Belvo test
UCD will go into the Ulster Bank League Christmas break as joint Division 1A leaders after maintaining their winning form by beating Old Belvedere 20-12.
Noel McNamara's students had the benefit of a very strong wind in the first half at the Belfield Bowl and duly swept into a 15-0 interval lead thanks to tries from Jeremy Loughman and Tom Fletcher, with Leinster's Ross Byrne adding a conversion and a penalty.
Out-half Byrne went close to finding Hugo Keenan with an audacious cross-field kick before flanker Peadar Timmins forced his way over for try number three in the 63rd minute.
Belvo missed out on a losing bonus point despite late tries from the ever-influential Daniel Riordan and second-row Jack Kelly.
Clontarf, who also have 31 points, picked up only their second try-scoring bonus point of the campaign with a 39-25 victory over Garryowen, the highlight of which was a three-try contribution from Leinster winger Mick McGrath.
McGrath was at his barnstorming best, taking his league tally to nine tries after nine rounds, while fellow backs Conor O'Brien and Dermot O'Meara also touched down as 'Tarf's new all-weather pitch showed its worth on a day when Storm Desmond claimed eight league fixtures around the country..
Struggling Ballynahinch threw off the shackles at a windswept Ballymacarn Park to claim a deserved 25-13 triumph over defending champions Lansdowne, who slipped to their fourth loss in six games.
The division's bottom side gave themselves a very timely boost after eight defeats on the trot, with a late first-half try from loosehead Craig Trenier lighting the touchpaper for a rousing final 40 minutes that included converted scores from tighthead Jonny Simpson and Ulster scrum-half Paul Rowley.
In Division 1B, St Mary's College extended their advantage at the summit to two points with a 32-16 bonus-point victory away to bottom side Belfast Harlequins.
Fleet-footed winger Max McFarland notched a hat-trick of tries in Dublin University's 36-11 bonus-point dismissal of Shannon.