Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League got off to a fiercely competitive start over the weekend with all five first round games won by the away teams and seven points being the biggest winning margin.
2015 champions Lansdowne top the table following their 32-25 bonus point win over Garryowen.
Lively winger Daniel McEvoy weighed in with two of their four tries at Dooradoyle, but the Light Blues’ late blitz of points — tries from Johnny Keane and David Johnston and a key 75th minute penalty from captain Neil Cronin — ensured they got something out of the game.
Full-back Rob Keogh came to reigning champions Clontarf’s rescue when his late penalty saw them edge out UCD 22-20 at the Belfield Bowl.
Keogh and UCD winger Cillian Burke gave a fine display of place-kicking, amassing 27 points between them in this gripping encounter.
Rob McGrath’s early opportunist try for the visitors was cancelled out by Stephen Murphy’s score from a clever dummy, leaving it 10-all at the break.
Ireland Under-20 flanker Greg Jones touched down from a powerful maul to move Andy Skehan’s students in front (20-13), but Keogh’s reliable right boot got ‘Tarf out of trouble with three closing penalties.
Meanwhile, UL Bohemians lead the way in Division 1B thanks to their 41-10 demolition of Dolphin in Cork.
They ran in six tries in Christy Neilan’s first league game in charge, including a brilliant long range intercept effort from winger Jamie McNamara. Debutant Cameron O’Shaughnessy notched a late consolation effort for well-beaten Dolphin.
Ballynahinch produced a storming second half display to run out comprehensive 35-13 winners over Buccaneers at Ballymacarn Park. Ulster’s Sam Windsor bagged a second half brace, with Steve MaCauley, Conor Joyce and Jordan Grattan also crossing.
Fionn Carr marked his return to the league with a try as Johne Murphy’s Naas ground out a hard-fought 18-13 victory over Galwegians at Forenaughts. Scrum half Peter Osborne nailed two penalties in the 72nd and 74th minutes to decide this hard-fought clash.
Ulster squad member Mark Best tallied up 15 points in Ballymena’s 25-19 success away to Shannon, while two second half penalties from Ronan McKenna - completing his own 19-point haul — gave the Limerick men a losing bonus point.
Winger Barry McLaughlin landed 13 points off the tee as Old Wesley overcame Division 1B newcomers UCC at the Mardyke.
Wesley’s new Kiwi centre Isaac Leota impressed with a fine break to set up Paul Harte’s 69th-minute try in the 23-20 win.
The Cork students endured two yellow cards in the second half, but they picked up a point thanks to a late score from prop Peter McCabe.
Full results, scorers and team lists are available here: http://www.irishrugby.ie/news/38079.php
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