CORK Constitution provided the only bright note on another wise miserable weekend for local clubs in round 7 of the energia All-Ireland League.
They supplied the lone victory with a hard-fought 20-13 triumph away to Ballynahinch to maintain their push for a top-four finish in Division 1A while Midleton, in Division 2C, were the only other Cork side to avoid defeat, drawing 13-13 at home to Ballina.
The importance of a reliable set-piece was underlined again with the scrum the cornerstone of Con’s fifth successive win, awarded a couple of penalty tries after driving the home side back from close-range in either half.
Con have assembled both quality and quantity in the highly attritional area of the front-row with Brendan Quinlan, Billy Scannell and Luke Masters starting up north and being in a position to introduce Alessandro Heaney and Max Abbott from the bench.
Conditions were very difficult with wind and rain battering Ballymacam Park and the visitors had first use of the wind.
Con, who had Bruce Matthews partnering Niall Kenneally at centre, Luke Kerr at scrum-half, joining captain Aidan Moynihan at half-back, and Cathal O’Flaherty and Eoin Quilter in the second-row, led 6-0 early on.
Moynihan opened the scoring before full-back George Coomber landed a monster from 60m to extend the lead, which stretched to 13-0 with the awarding of the first penalty try as the Hinch front-row buckled under the strain.
The Ulster side didn’t take long to cut into Con’s interval lead, crossing for a converted try inside two minutes of the resumption and then reducing the deficit to three points with a penalty.
Con regained their composure, however, and lent once again on the power of their front five, leading to a second penalty try for double scores, 20-10, though Hinch managed a losing bonus point with a late penalty.
Terenure College continue to set a blistering pace at the summit completing seven bonus point victories on the trot in a repeat of last season’s final against champions Clontarf.
The only other club with a maximum 35 points is Instonians at the head of affairs in Division 2C and clearly after generating a head of steam following their elevation from junior ranks at the end of last season.
Terenure won 29-24 to inflict a first home defeat on their Dublin rivals in over a year as Sean Skehan’s charges again impressed with the ball in hand, out-half Callum Smith orchestrating matters brilliantly for fliers like Adam La Grue and Craig Adams to bag a couple of tries apiece.
The league leaders led 24-7 at one stage but the champions finished strongly to collect two bonus points and stay in the top four, a point adrift of Con.
Despite winning 25-24 away to Trinity, courtesy of a couple of late tries, Young Munster, who had former Cork minor footballer Patrick Campbell at full-back, are still eight points adrift in fifth.
But Garryowen’s terrible season just goes from bad to worse after losing for the seventh consecutive time, going down 47-28 away to Lansdowne, who raced to a 33-0 lead at the interval before the Limerick side salvaged a try bonus point with four second-half tries.
The light blues, however, are still rooted to the bottom of the table on just two points, eight behind UCD while promoted Shannon are in eighth spot on 12 points, the same as Lansdowne, after a 36-24 victory at home to the Dublin students in a game which yielded nine tries.
Highfield collected a losing bonus point from their 20-17 defeat by Malone in Belfast to occupy sixth in the Division 1B table on 16 points, three adrift of UCC, who lost their ‘colours’ match to Old Wesley.
Scrum-half Richard Cassidy and hooker Travis Coomey crossed for tries, both converted by Cian Bohane, with Shane Buckley landing a penalty.
In the big game in the division, Eddie O’Sullivan’s Buccaneers won 23-9 away to second-placed St Mary’s to be four points ahead of City of Armagh, who leapfrogged St Mary’s in the standings.