Lansdowne survived a late, late scare to finish as 21-20 winners over Old Belvedere in a tense New Year encounter on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch.
Mike Ruddock’s men were 21-15 ahead entering the final minutes and although Shane McDonald went over out wide for Belvedere’s third try, fellow winger Josh Glynn missed what would have been a match-winning conversion.
Lansdowne, who had prop Peter Dooley sin-binned in the 78th minute, somehow held on to begin 2015 on a winning note, making it six league victories on the trot to move seven points clear at the top of Division 1A.
Despite being outscored by three tries to two, Lansdowne had a key contribution from their experienced out-half Scott Deasy whose 11-point haul including well-struck penalties in the 13th, 20th and 30th minutes.
Both first-half tries were scored from lineouts, Old Belvedere lock Michael Oyuga breaking through in the 17th minute and a well-worked maul, just before the break, saw Lansdowne flanker Joe O’Brien respond.
A Josh Glynn penalty closed the gap to 16-8 before Lansdowne full-back Cian Kelleher celebrated his Ulster Bank Rising Star monthly award win with a 49th-minute try, though Lansdowne failed to convert.
Back came Belvo, profiting from the sin-binning of Lansdowne winger John Coleman on the hour mark. Barely a minute later, prop Adam Howard crashed over for Glynn to convert and reduce the arrears to six points.
Paul Cunningham’s charges kept pressing and got their reward in injury-time when the hard-working McDonald nabbed a deserved try. However, the kick proved too difficult for Glynn as frustrated Belvo fell to their fourth successive defeat.
Scorers for Lansdowne: Tries: J O’Brien, C Kelleher; Con: S Deasy; Pens: S Deasy 3
Scorers for Old Belvedere: Try: M Oyuga, A Howard, S McDonald; Con: J Glynn; Pen: J Glynn
LANSDOWNE: Cian Kelleher; John Coleman, Tom Farrell, Tom Daly, Ian Fitzpatrick; Scott Deasy (capt), Paddy O’Driscoll; Peter Dooley, Tyrone Moran, Ian Prendiville, Brian Moylett, Stephen Gardiner, Joe O’Brien, Aaron Conneely, Jack Dilger.
OLD BELVEDERE: Daniel Riordan; Josh Glynn, John Kennedy, Peter Robb, Shane McDonald; Aidan Wynne; Adam Howard, Cathal O’Flynn, Declan Lavery, Jack Kelly, Ben Marshall, Michael Oyuga, Kieran O’Gorman, Jonathan Slattery (capt).
Referee: Kieran Barry (IRFU).