AIL Division 1A review: Exciting UCC go top of the class

Five months on from retaining their Division 1A status through the play-offs, UCC are the early leaders of the Energia All-Ireland League following a terrific 30-20 win at Dublin University.

AIL Division 1A review: Exciting UCC go top of the class

Five months on from retaining their Division 1A status through the play-offs, UCC are the early leaders of the Energia All-Ireland League following a terrific 30-20 win at Dublin University.

The Cork students were the only team to claim a try-scoring bonus point on a weather-beaten opening day.

Talented young out-half James Taylor was a prominent figure as UCC claimed a 13-10 half-time lead at College Park, with Rob Hedderman and Donnacha Mescal swapping tries.

Early second-half tries from new flanker Rory Suttor and Matthew Bowen strengthened the visitors’ hand, although a Michael O’Kennedy penalty and James Moriarty try brought Trinity right back into contention.

UCC’s adventure was rewarded late on when elusive winger Bowen sealed the result.

Debutant out-half Tim Foley starred against his former club UCD as he kicked 18 points in Lansdowne’s 33-3 home victory, while former Ireland U20 hooker Tadgh McElroy raced over from a 71st-minute ruck in Clontarf’s 7-6 triumph away to Young Munster.

The scrum was a valuable weapon in Sean Skehan’s first league game in charge of Terenure College, earning a penalty try and a decisive late penalty nailed by Jake Swaine in a 22-19 success at newly-promoted Ballynahinch.

Former Ulster player Sean O’Hagan kicked 14 points for ’Hinch.

Meanwhile, Tim Ryan’s Highfield side quickly made their mark on Division 1B with a 27-6 home win over Malone.

Luke Kingston’s first-half try was added to by Mark Dorgan and a penalty try as they moved straight to the top of the table.

All three Dublin clubs also prevailed, St Mary’s edging out Navan 23-18 after Hugo Conway’s late opportunist try proved crucial.

A breakaway effort from flanker Conor Barry saw Old Wesley take a 13-3 verdict against Banbridge, while captain Steve Crosbie booted 17 points in Old Belvedere’s 22-20 victory at Shannon.

Cormac Fox was another out-half in match-winning form, landing two closing penalties in their 13-7 defeat of Naas.

It was 13 unanswered points from Willie Faloon’s men, with Andrew Smyth crossing in response to Naas full-back Fionn Higgins’ 25th-minute try.

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