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Smyth joy as Mary's march on

ST MARY'S remain very much in the hunt for the title after overcoming Lansdowne in an exciting clash on the back pitch at the Aviva on Saturday.

Ideally, they would liked to have come away with a bonus point, but coach Peter Smyth was pleased just to have won.

The result means that St Mary's are in second place, a point behind leaders Clontarf with Young Munster two points further back.

The ability of Mary's big forwards to carry possession caused Lansdowne problems. Somehow the hosts' defence stood firm in the first half, only conceding two penalties for Gavin Dunne to kick.

Lansdowne's young back division responded with a try from right-wing Cian Aherne. Craig Ronaldson's conversion and a penalty gave the home side a 10-6 half-time lead.

But St Mary's moved into a different gear early in the second half with two tries from Philip Brophy and Conor Hogan in the space of five minutes, both of which were converted by Dunne. Darren Hudson burst through for a try and Dunne again added the extras.

At 27-10, St Mary's looked sure to go on and get the bonus point, but Lansdowne hit back with two late tries from Mark Roche and Charlie Butterworth. Ronaldson landed one of the conversions to give them a losing bonus.

Lansdowne coach Mike Ruddock said: "The injury to our flanker Jason Kelly didn't help us but I have no complaints, they deserved their victory. If St Mary's continue to play like that, this competition will go down to the wire."

Smyth also feels that all of the top three sides are still in there with a real chance. "I'm more than happy just to have got the victory. This is a very difficult venue and we responded brilliantly at the start of the second half," he said.

Lansdowne -- R McCarron; C Aherne, M Roche, J Carey, M Healy; C Ronaldson, J Cooney; I Prendeville, T Sexton, D O'Reilly, M Feeley, W Earl, R Boucher, J Kelly, J Murphy. Reps used: S Collins, M Moore, A Matthews, C Butterworth, S McCarron.

St Mary's -- G Dunne; C Hogan, S Grissing, M O'Driscoll, C Lily; P Brophy, M D'Arcy; C McMahon, Richard Sweeney, Robert Sweeney, G Logan, S Bradshaw, D Hall, G Austen, H Hogan. Reps used: D Hudson, S Toal-Lennon, J McGrath, B O'Flanagan, R Brosnan.

Ref -- J Lacey.

Irish Independent