OLD BELVEDERE 15 LANSDOWNE 15, Anglesea Road
Scorers: Old Belvedere: Tries: Sean Coughlan, Daniel Riordan; Con: Willie Staunton; Pen: Willie Staunton
Lansdowne: Tries: John O’Donnell 2, Paul Boyle
HT: Old Belvedere 0 Lansdowne 15
Old Belvedere gave themselves a fighting chance in their battle against relegation from Ulster Bank League Division 1A as they shared the spoils with 14-man Lansdowne at Anglesea Road on Saturday afternoon.
First half tries from John O’Donnell (two) and Ireland Under-20 international Paul Boyle had leaders Lansdowne in pole position for another win, but with the visitors’ blindside flanker Joe McSwiney sent off in the second period, ‘Belvo dug deep to claim a 15-all draw and two potentially vital points.
Looking to bounce back from defeats to Clontarf and Cork Constitution, Lansdowne had the better of the opening exchanges although young out-half Charlie McMickan missed a long range penalty before injury forced him off. Fergal Cleary replaced him.
Mike Ruddock’s men kicked their next two penalties to the corner and a 12th minute maul was finished over the line by O’Donnell on the right. His centre partner Mark Roche missed the conversion but Lansdowne doubled their lead in the second quarter, spreading the ball wide to the left for Ireland Sevens international O’Donnell to finish comfortably.
Their third unconverted try followed on the half hour mark when they opted for a scrum rather than a shot at the posts. Promising number 8 Boyle picked off the base and burst over for the score, leaving ‘Belvo with a 15-point deficit to overcome.
Limerick man Willie Staunton was introduced at the break and he opened Belvedere’s account with an expertly-struck penalty after 44 minutes. The home side suffered a setback when prop Adam Howard was sin-binned, however McSwiney’s dismissal in the 56th minute for a high tackle on ‘Belvo’s Paul Pritchard proved even more significant.
Staunton uncharacteristically missed the resulting penalty kick, but ‘Belvo’s persistence was soon rewarded with a 68th minute try which saw them counter at pace from a turnover and returning Ireland Club international Sean Coughlan charged away to score in the right corner.
The conversion was missed but the hosts were now benefiting from that numerical advantage. Loosehead Howard made a powerful break and although he was halted inside the Lansdowne 22, full-back Daniel Riordan picked up the ball in space and clinically cut through for a try on the right.
Staunton was faced with a tricky conversion but the former Garryowen, Young Munster and Terenure half-back superbly split the posts to bring Belvedere level. The sides could not be separated in the closing stages, meaning bottom side Belvedere had closed the gap on Garryowen to three points at the foot of the table, while Lansdowne’s lead at the summit is down to two points with two rounds remaining.
OLD BELVEDERE: Daniel Riordan; Eddie Weaver, John Kennedy (capt), Ben Woods, Sean Coughlan; Paul O’Keefe, Aaron Sheehan; Adam Howard, Ed Rossiter, Daryl Ryan, Jack Kelly, Connor Owende, Karl Miller, Paul Pritchard, Jonathan Slattery.
Replacements: Cathal O’Flynn, Eoin O’Neill, Matt Ritani, Willie Staunton, Ben Butler.
LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills; Daniel McEvoy, John O’Donnell, Mark Roche, Mark O’Keeffe; Charlie McMickan, Matthew D’Arcy; Jacob Walshe, Tyrone Moran, Ian Prendiville (capt), Josh O’Rourke, Stephen Gardiner, Joe McSwiney, Charlie Butterworth, Paul Boyle.
Replacements: Tadgh McElroy, Ntinga Mpiko, Barry Fitzgerald, Alan Bennie, Fergal Cleary.