CORK Constitution lifted the gloom on a best-forgotten round five of games for the other Cork clubs in the energia All-Ireland League at the weekend.
A third successive bonus-point triumph in a 36-31 away win at UCD followed similar returns against Garryowen and Shannon and cemented the Temple Hill club’s top-four placing in Division 1A.
But for the rest it was disappointment all the way as UCC, Midleton and Sunday’s Well lost at home and Highfield and Dolphin came away empty-handed from their visits to Armagh and Cashel respectively.
The students were the only side to gain a bonus point from the 26-21 defeat by Naas at the Mardyke, College suffering their first defeat of the season in Division 1B.
Con were involved in a nine-try thriller at Belfield, racing into an early 14-0 lead thanks to tries from wings Daniel Hurley, who scored for the second week running, and Billy Crowley, both converted by captain Aidan Moynihan.
Yet, they still trailed 17-14 at the interval following a spirited UCD fightback only for the visitors to respond with a three-try salvo from former skipper Niall Kenneally, hooker Billy Scannell, picking up his third of the season, and flanker Matisse Lamarque d’Arrouzat.
Moynihan kicked two more conversions and a penalty, but UCD battled away to collect two bonus points of their own.
It preserved Tarf’s unbeaten run and inflicted a first defeat on the students as last year’s runners-up Terenure College continue to set the pace with a perfect record of five bonus-point victories, the latest away to struggling Lansdowne, winning by 32-12.
They’re already looking over their shoulder with just six points to their name in seventh, one more than Shannon and two clear of UCD with Garryowen propping up the table with just a solitary losing bonus-point.
Con made two front-row changes for their trip to the capital, Scannell and tight-head prop Luke Masters starting on this occasion with 13 players remaining from the previous week’s impressive win over Garryowen.
College, however, have no such luxuries as a high attritional rate in the forwards is impacting with the likes of prop Daniel McCarthy, second-row Sam O’Sullivan and back-rowers Jack O’Sullivan and Jacob Sheahan all sidelined.
The bonus-point helped UCC to 19 points the same as new leaders Buccaneers, who have a better scoring difference, +57 to +36, with St Mary’s a point adrift and Old Belvedere and City of Armagh next on 15 points.
Highfield’s third defeat on the trot in Armagh has the Woodleigh Park club sliding down the table to eighth on 11 points, four more than Malone and five better off than Banbridge who are last.
John O’Callaghan and Robert Murphy crossed for tries for the visitors, who were also awarded a penalty try.
Dolphin’s struggles on the road continued with a 27-15 defeat at Nenagh Ormond, a result which leaves the Musgrave Park club in eighth spot on nine points, followed by Old Crescent on seven and another Limerick club, UL Bohemians, last on four.
Three Munster clubs filling the bottom three places is replicated in Division 2C with Midleton and the Well in eighth and ninth respectively as Ballina remain winless with just a losing bonus-point to their name.
Only two clubs of the 50 in the league have perfect starts, Terenure and newly-promoted Instonians in 2C.