There looked to be an element of tiredness in the Cork side’s defence when Lansddowne’s replacement scrum-half Adam Griggs found a gap and ran in under the posts for the bonus-point score.
Lansdowne started sloppily and went behind in the eighth minute when Darren Sweetnam scored the first of his two tries.
Ruddock’s side levelled in the 28th minute when after a multiple phase move, Conor McKeon put hooker Tyrone Moran away in the corner, with Con’s defence overstretched.
Tomás Quinlan produced a moment of brilliant improvisation five minutes later when after seeing his drop-goal attempt charged down, he quickly gathered the ball, chipped over Lansdowne’s defence and gathered to put Con 10-5 up.
Things got worse for Lansdowne when flanker Joe O’Brien was knocked unconscious and had to go off but they went in 12-10 up at the break after Tom Farrell was put through by his midfield partner Tom Daly.
Farrell put his side seven points up when he touched down in the right corner in the 54th minute after a direct move off a lineout but, like last week, Sweetnam was alert to a fumbled ball in midfield to race away unopposed to leave the score 20-20 with 13 minutes left.
Then came Griggs’s last-gasp heroics.
“In fairness to Cork Con they were exactly what we said they’d be,” Ruddock said. “They were really fired up, they were hunting down a playoff place, so we knew they’d be very physical.
“Even when your team is not at the top of their game, you want to see them graft and work. The more the game went on, the more we grafted and worked against a very, very well-organised Cork Con. I thought they were very tough to break down. If they’d won, we couldn’t have complained and you could argue they deserved it as much as we did.”
Con actually moved up a place and into the playoff spots despite the defeat and while Con coach Tom Tierney was pleased with his side’s performance, he pointed out that there are just five points between them and St Mary’s in the relegation play-off position.
“It’s such a competitive league with so many teams stuck together,” he said. “One second you’re looking up seeing if you can get into the top four but then you have to be mindful of the fact that if one performance and other results don’t go your way, you could be down in the relegation zone.
“It’s so competitive, it’s a brilliant league in fairness. When I played back in the day there was a top four and I think it makes every match a true contest throughout the season because everyone has something to fight for. It also builds up and helps with the publicity of the league.
“We’ll take great confidence from how we played in all areas. There were a few lapses in defence and that’s something we have to learn from. If we can do that and bring the same level of intensity, I think we’ll be very competitive in our last two games.”
Scorers for Lansdowne: Tries: Farrell (2), Moran, Griggs. Cons: McKeon (2). Pen: McKeon.
Scorers for Cork Con — Tries: Sweetnam (2), Quinlan. Con: Quinlan. Pen: Quinlan.
LANSDOWNE: C Aherne; M Roche, T Farrell, T Daly, F Gormley; C McKeon, P O’Driscoll; I Prenderville, T Moran, A Boland; B Moylett, S Gardiner; J O’Brien, A Conneely, J McSwiney.
Replacements: R Jones for O’Brien (39), A Griggs for O’Driscoll (ht), W Larkin for Conneely (61).
CORK CONSTITUTION: D Lyons; L Duffy, N Kenneally, N Hodson, D Sweetnam; T Quinlan, A Dorgan; G Duffy, M Abbott, G Sweeney; C O’Flaherty, G Lawler; L Cahill, J Murphy J Ryan.
Replacements: C Corkey for Sweeney (34), S Dwyer for Murphy (48), A Slattery for Duffy (52), Sweeney for Corkery (59), M Keyes for Kenneally (68), Kenneally for Duffy (72), A Ross for O’Flaherty (79), Murphy for Dwyer (79).
Referee: Andy Brace.