Gleeson the star as Con extend title lead

Cork Constitution 28 Lansdowne 20

Coach Brian Walsh frowned when recalling how his side had relinquished a ten-point lead and had to sweat for victory, but he stressed: “We never seem to get an easy match against Lansdowne. The good thing is that we won, and that we managed to score a fourth try to get the bonus point before the end.

“At times we struggled to put our game together, but we haven’t played for a few weeks so there was bound to be a bit of rustiness. Still, there were a lot of positive signs as well and the guys seemed comfortable playing on a hard ground. It allowed us to give a bit more width to the game.”

While Lansdowne reflected on a five-star performance from Robbie Dolan, Walsh was pleased with the display of Tom Gleeson, who has comfortably made the switch from outside to inside centre.

Gleeson caused Lansdowne endless problems with his powerful and elusive running, and he created a try for Denis Hurley just before the break.

“He has been a revelation for us at 12,” said Walsh.

“He’s getting more ball, he has more control over the play and he has proved himself to be an excellent decision-maker.

Con were just two points clear before Saturday’s games, but following defeats for UL Bohemian and Dungannon, their lead at the top has stretched to seven points — ahead of champions Shannon, UL Bohemian and Clontarf who are all locked on 35 points.

Constitution took an early lead with a try by Cronan Healy after Hurley had made the hard yards. Dolan and Richard Lane swapped penalties before Lansdowne hit back with a penalty from Dolan, who also converted an intercept try from John Coleman.

Leading 13-8, the visitors were unable to build on the advantage and Con hit back with another smashing try from full-back Hurley. They hardly looked back after that and held the upper hand for most of the second half.

Lane kicked a penalty and then converted a try from Robert Quinn to make it 23-13 after just 12 minutes.

Despite some powerful play from the pack and many positive moves out wide, Constitution failed to add to their tally and then became vulnerable when Dolan scorched in for a try he converted himself after a rare counter-attack.

But the hard work was eventually rewarded when Brendan Cuttriss charged forward and sent Colm Murphy thundering over for a fourth try which yielded Constitution a deserved bonus point. On the run of play it was well deserved and will put them in positive mood for the four-game run-in. Constitution are away to lowly Buccaneers and UCD and home in the last two to Terenure and Ballymena, and you would expect them to get enough points from those games to at least secure a home semi-final.

CORK CONSTITUTION: D. Hurley, R. Lane, D. Netherby, T. Gleeson, C. Healy, D. Lyons, P. McKee, C. Murphy, R. Quinn, T. Ryan, J. Moloney, S. O’Connor, M. O’Connor, F. Cogan (c), B. Cutriss.

Replacements: D. O’Riordan for Healy (66), D. Murphy for Quinn, E. Leamy for Moloney (both 73).

LANSDOWNE: M. Ashford, B. McGeever, N. Walsh, R. Dolan, J. Coleman, A. Geraghty, D. Coughlan, J. Lynn, K. Corrigan, P. Doran-Jones, S. McCarthy, A. Maher, D. Lavin (c), R. Boucher, V. O’Dowd.

Replacements: C. Casey for Coleman (39), R. Jones for Boucher (half time), K. Cleere for Doran-Jones (75).

Referee: A. Rolland (IRFU).

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