Yet, for Cork Constitution coach Tom Mulcahy, there was significance in how it was achieved on the main pitch at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday after a run of defeats. Mulcahy’s side started and finished the game brilliantly, showing a dogged resistance as the holders took control.
“I thought we played very good accurate rugby,” he said. “At times they had control and when they did they scored, but our guys stuck to it and it was a difficult thing coming up here off the back of three losses. To score four tries against Belvedere [last time] and lose that game was heartbreaking.
“We were just trying to get back on the road. We got the result and no better place to get it than against the champions.”
The win puts Con into third place and under different structures Mulcahy would have been looking forward to maintaining a challenge for the title through the top four play-off system.
“It’s a pity and it’s my view we really do need to have a top four finish. This way of having the winner take all takes the real competition out of the league at the end of the day.”
Another cause for regret has been Con’s poor home form. Mulcahy tallied that 22 of the club’s 38-point total have been picked up on the road.
“To get 22 on the road is excellent but we really need to start fronting up at home. Whatever it is, we seem to be hungry and have an attitude but at home we just seem to sit back and wait for things to happen. We have to bring that to Temple Hill next week.”
Con certainly didn’t wait for things to happen and were quick out of the blocks with an excellent James Ryan try, the back row forward being sent in by Gavin Duffy. Darragh Lyons converted.
Lansdowne responded quickly though and Foster Horan conjured up a wondrous 11th minute try. Tom Daly converted and then tacked on two penalties to establish a 13-7 lead.
They failed to hold it – losing the advantage when conceding a much disputed penalty try and Lyons gave Con the edge, a 14-13 lead, at the break.
Midway through the second-half Charlie Butterworth scored another fine Lansdowne try but Michael Keyes provided the crucial link with a perfectly timed pass to send Chris Quinn flying in for another Con score. Lyons converted and then added a penalty two minutes before the end to send his side up into third.
Lansdowne coach Mike Ruddock accepted defeat gracefully, acknowledging: “It was a tough game and there was a crucial spell when we had two yellow cards and a penalty try against us. We did better for 30 minutes in the second-half but then missed one tackle and conceded a try and that was the end of it really. We were on top for most of the second half but let our guard down once and they punished us.”
LANSDOWNE: W Walsh, C Aherne, M Roche, T Daly, F Horan, T Kiersey, P Maher, I Prendiville, T Moran, A Boland, W Earle, J Moran, C Ross, B Moylett, C Butterworth.
Rolling replacements: W Larkin, A Matthews, R Jones, K Quinlan, S Deasy.
CORK CONSTITUTION: L Duffy, E O’Driscoll, M Keyes, N Kenneally, C Desmond, D Lyons, R Foley, G Duffy, M Abbott,, G Sweeney, J McSwiney, G Lawlor, L Cahill, W Ryan, J Ryan.
Rolling replacements: R Daly, C Corkery, Y Browne, C Quinn, A Ross.
Referee: S Gaffakin (IRFU)