Holland holds nerve as Con edge Lansdowne
By Barry Coughlan
The delight within the Cork Constitution camp was significant after Johnny Holland felled Ulster Bank leaders Lansdowne for the first time in this season’s campaign at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Holland’s injury-time penalty was hailed yesterday by Con skipper Gerry Hurley who described it as a “brilliant strike, against the wind and from the wrong side of the pitch, from his perspective.”
Hurley’s exploits over the last couple of weeks have certainly endeared him to playing colleagues and fans alike — last week his touchline conversion of an injury-time try helped secure four more league points in the 21-20 win over Young Munster.
The out half will also have endeared himself to other clubs, who have benefited by Lansdowne’s defeat given that it helps keep a delicate balance between the leaders and challengers. Lansdowne stay top but the lead has been cut to just a single point ahead of Munster challengers Garryowen who in turn are followed by Dolphin, Con and Young Munster despite a home loss to Clontarf.
Hurley could not have been happier with the overall outcome, with Constitution fighting their way back from a 41st minute 19-3 deficit to score three tries and give Holland a shot for glory.
“It was an exceptional second-half effort, we found it hard to break their defence in the first half but the try they scored just into the second half had the desired effect, we took them on up the middle and reaped dividends through the tries. Overall, it was a top-class performance,” he said.
Cian Aherne was once again in try scoring form for Lansdowne but this time his contribution wasn’t enough as Constitution enjoyed a 25-22 win thanks to tries from Scott Deasy, Darragh Lyons and Niall O’Driscoll.
The victory is a massive confidence booster ahead of Friday’s Temple Hill derby against high-flying Dolphin.
It was another bad day at the office for Shannon, whose run of defeats and particularly the amount of points they are leaking strongly indicates their time in the top flight of Irish club rugby is coming to a close. A 13-45 defeat to Old Belvedere on Saturday and the concession of seven tries, two of them penalty tries, does not auger well for their hopes.
In Division 1B it was all over at half-time at Stradbrook as Ballynahinch powered to a 35-5 lead over Blackrock who eventually conceded eight tries to the Ulster side, now in top spot thanks to a 52-19 bonus point win.
Second-placed Dublin University maintained their challenge but only after a hard fought 12-6 win over Bruff at Kilballyowen Park while UCD defeated Malone 18-15 win at Gibson Park.
Banbridge continue to set the pace in Division 2A and enjoyed another bonus-point victory defeating Queens University (45-20) at Dub Lane. City of Derry pipped Corinthians 35-33, and Seapoint’s shock 15-13 win over Terenure allowed Banbridge open up a four-point gap. Derry’s win pushes them up the table alongside UCC who had to work hard for a home win over Bective Rangers (10-8). Elsewhere Naas proved too strong for Navan to move top of Division 2B.
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