Lansdowne moved within a point of leaders Terenure as they secured a deserved Ulster Bank League win over Dolphin at Musgrave Park on Saturday. The scoreline gives no indication of the amount of territory and possession enjoyed by Mike Ruddock’s side, even if they had to rely on a 71st minute penalty try to take the four points.
Lowly Dolphin can take credit for the way they battled in defence almost from start to finish. Not only did they tackle themselves to a standstill but scrapped for every ounce of ball on the ground.
Dolphin coach Steve Ford praised his troops for their bravery: “In this division you’ve got to be good without the ball and that was an area we have really tried to work on. It came down to a scrum (superior) at the end of it although I admit they had an awful lot of territory and we were under pressure throughout. Sometimes the games are like that and you’ve got to fight and a lot of those boys grew up out there. We were missing some of the A boys (Munster) and we still have injury concerns; hopefully some of those lads will make their way back in the coming weeks. We’re at the half way point now (six points adrift at the bottom) and we’ve got to start getting the points together.”
The win for Lansdowne, coupled with Terenure’s first loss was a boost for Ruddock, the coach saying: “We had lots of new combinations so we lacked cohesion and gave away a lot of penalties. There’s a lot of talk these days about winning ugly and sometimes you’ve just got to win ugly away from home. We knew Dolphin would be dangerous, they’re bottom of the league but they are better than that, we knew they would scrap for their lives and they certainly did that.
“Anyone who predicted we would come down here and put 20 or 30 points on them would have to be mad, especially with the injuries we have, with the B and I Cup taking some of our players and, of course, because of my firm view Dolphin are better than their position.”
Dolphin led at the break with two penalties from Barry Keeshan to one from Scott Deasy. The Lansdowne out half levelled matters dearly in the second-half and then converted that late penalty try.
DOLPHIN: E Mills, R Reardon, M Sandler, C McGovern, S McAuliffe, B Keeshan (captain), K O’Keeffe, J Leahy, D Byrne, J Rochford, D O’Mahony, B Quill, R O’Herlihy, K Allen, J Quill.
Rolling subs: C Stanton, P McCabe, J Vaughan, S Lee, S Dinan
LANSDOWNE: F Doherty, P O’Driscoll, T Farrell, M Roche, E Quinn, S Deasy, A Griggs, I Prendeville, T Moran, A Boland, B Moylett, S Gardiner, J O’Brien, A Conneely, R Boucher (captain).
Rolling subs: W Larkin, J Barry, J Dilger, I Burke, G McDonald
Referee: M Connolly (IRFU)