Three tries in eight first-half minutes lit up Musgrave Park, showcasing how good title-chasing Lansdowne, in particular, can be off turnover ball.
James Kiernan’s score, converted by Barry Keeshan, had Dolphin 7-3 up but Lansdowne captain Ross McCarron collected Paddy O’Driscoll’s kick ahead to dot down before Connacht centre Kyle Tonetti took half the Dolphin defence over the line with him to turn the game on its head.
Sean Dougall then sent Harry Fleming over for a converted try and a Keeshan penalty saw the Cork side lead 17-15 at the break.
Lansdowne out-half Craig Ronaldson then took over as the tries dried up in the second half, booting four penalties to take his tally to 17 and put his side 27-17 to the good.
Keeshan put Dolphin back into bonus point territory four minutes from time and the hosts then crossed in injury time through prop James Cronin, but Keeshan was unable to snatch the draw as his conversion attempt — the game’s last act — drifted wide.
Scorers for Dolphin: Tries: J Kiernan, H Fleming, J Cronin. Pens: B Keeshan 2 Cons: B Keesham 2.
Scorers for Lansdowne: Tries: R McCarron, K Tonetti. Pens: C Ronaldson 5. Con: C Ronaldson..
DOLPHIN: D Hurley; J Kiernan, H Fleming, C Bohane, J Gleeson; B Keeshan, B Slater; J Cronin, N Scannell (capt), C Condon; C Rowe, J Maddigan; R O’Herlihy, S Dougall, B O’Callaghan.
Rolling replacements: J Leahy, W Foley, M Cronin, C Bannon, E Mills.
LANSDOWNE: R McCarron (capt); R McCarthy, K Tonetti, M Roche, M Healy; C Ronaldson, P O’Driscoll; J O’Connell, S Collins, M Moore; W Earl, M Feeley; C Ross, C Butterworth, R Boucher.
Rolling replacements: T Moran, R Liddington, D Mannion, M Walsh, F Doherty.
Referee: J Lacey (IRFU).