AIL review: Pack power ensures Lansdowne are the early pacesetters

A second successive bonus point win has moved Lansdowne three points clear at the top of Ulster Bank League Division 1A, while St. Mary’s College, UCD and Garryowen all bounced back with their opening victories of the campaign on Saturday.

Leinster loosehead Peter Dooley was part of a dominant home scrum and also helped himself to a try as Lansdowne thumped Terenure College 29-5 on the Aviva Stadium’s main pitch. Tom Daly and young replacement prop Ntinga Mpiko also touched down to add to a first-half penalty try.

Sean Kearns was the hero for St. Mary’s as they claimed the scalp of defending champions Clontarf in a 23-20 win. Kearns completed his 13-point kicking haul with the decisive penalty in the 77th minute.

Another young number 10 impressed at College Park where Tom Foley, a key figure for Cistercian College Roscrea in their 2015 Schools Cup triumph, kicked 13 points in UCD’s 23-13 victory over Trinity. Despite a Leinster Academy-packed line-up, UCD did not have it all their own way and the hosts were right in the hunt until Jamie Glynn’s late clinching try.

Centre Andrew O’Byrne’s 25th-minute try and an eight-point kicking contribution from skipper Neil Cronin guided Garryowen to a 13-11 win over Old Belvedere.

Meanwhile, UL Bohemians have a two-point lead at the summit in Division 1B after a superb 38-22 dismissal of promotion rivals Ballynahinch. On the UL North Campus 4G pitch, in-form winger Jamie McNamara notched two of Bohs’ six tries, combining with full-back Joe Murray for both scores.

Recent Ulster debutant Matthew Rea produced a man-of-the-match performance as Ballymena ran out worthy 15-8 winners over Naas at Eaton Park. First-half touchdowns from Stephen Mulholland and Mark Best set the Braidmen on their way, with Naas’ response coming from full-back Fionn Higgins, the victim of a serious leg injury in the closing stages.

Number 8 and captain Kolo Kiripati rumbled over for two tries in Buccaneers’ impressive 27-3 bonus point triumph over Shannon, while Galwegians came from 11 points down to beat UCC 31-14 and finish with an eventual bonus point. Matthew Byrne, a recent addition to the Connacht Academy, launched ‘Wegians’ fight-back with the first of their five tries.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and IRFU President Stephen Hilditch were both present for the official opening of Old Wesley’s new pavilion and clubhouse at Donnybrook where 18 unanswered first-half points, including two tries from winger Paul Harte, inspired Wesley to a 21-10 victory over Dolphin.


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