Mary’s put a dent in ‘Tarf, Con maintain momentum at the top and Dungannon flying high. Below are match reports from the weekend’s AIB League Division 1 clashes.
BALLYMENA 22 UL BOHEMIANS 29, Eaton Park
Scorers: Ballymena: Tries: Glen Moore, Ross Connor, Peter Budina; Cons: Connor 2; Pen: Connor UL Bohs: Tries: Tom Luke, Colman Finn, Ben Martin, Martin McPhail; Cons: Martin 3; Pen: Martin
UL Bohemians banished memories of their last appearance at Eaton Park as they beat a tough Ballymena side 29-22 on Saturday afternoon.
Bohs lost 66-12 when they last visited the County Antrim venue in 2003 but scores from Tom Luke, Colman Finn, Ben Martin and Martin McPhail saw them gain revenge and their fourth straight win of the current league campaign.
Luke and skipper Finn touched down in the opening quarter-hour to set Bohs on their way. Finn’s score, which saw him benefit from some slack defending from the hosts, was converted by Martin.
But Ballymena, searching for their fourth win in five games, bounced back as experienced flanker Andy Graham made the hard yards for scrum half Ross Connor, who was making his senior debut for the Braidmen, to land a confidence-building penalty.
Teenager Connor, a student at Carrickfergus GS, added the extras to winger Budina’s 34th-minute try.
Crucially though, Australian centre Martin broke through the Ballymena defence just before the interval for a converted try, which sent the Limerick in at half-time with a 19-10 lead.
Four minutes into the second half, Dirkie Strydom watched as his clearance kick was charged down and Bohs winger McPhail scrambled over for his seventh try of the league campaign.
Martin converted for a 26-10 buffer, but back came the home side with their pack creating a well-taken try by flanker Glen Moore, which Connor converted.
Martin struck back with a 30-metre penalty and a 51st-minute injury to Bohs prop Gary Walsh meant there was uncontested scrums from then on, as the visitors had also lost first choice loosehead Kevin Flanagan to a first half injury.
A late sin-binning for Finn paved the way for Connor to crown his debut with a try, however there was no denying Bohs their second win in three league meetings with their Antrim hosts.
The win closes the gap for Bohs on Division One leaders Cork Con to just two points, while Ballymena have slipt to ninth position.
Afterwards, Ballymena coach Jacques Benade said: “We could have won and should have won, but we made far too many stupid mistakes and had to play too much catch-up rugby.”
BALLYMENA: D Strydom; P Budina, J Topping, J McGruggan, A Maxwell; J Burgess, R Connor; A Kirkpatrick, S Douglas, S Shawe, I Caldwell, B Young (capt), A Graham, G Moore, C Henry.
Replacements used: P Steenkamp for Kirkpatrick, J Smith for Strydom (both 47 mins).
UL BOHEMIANS: M Butler; M McPhail, B Martin, C Finn (capt), T Luke; F Lawlor, C Delooze; K Flanagan, G Ryan, M Storey, A Hartigan, B Madigan, A O’Gorman, JE O’Connor, J O’Neill.
Replacements used: G Walsh for Flanagan (21 mins), R Parkes for Walsh (51), P Rowley for Butler (63), T O’Donnell for O’Gorman (74), E Torrie for Delooze (80+2).
Referee: Alan Rogan (Leinster)
BLACKROCK COLLEGE 36 BELFAST HARLEQUINS 43, Stradbrook
Scorers: Blackrock: Tries: Simon Morrissey, Adam Byrnes, Fosi Pala’amo, Fionn Carr, Richard Woods; Cons: Carr 4; Pen: Carr
Harlequins: Tries: Chris McCarey 2, Colin Atkinson, Darren Cave, Lewis Stevenson, John Andress; Cons: Niall O’Connor 5; Pen: O’Connor
Belfast Harlequins’ newly found confidence was on show at Stradbrook on Saturday as they shared out an incredible 11 tries with Blackrock in a 43-36 victory.
‘Quins, who surprised Shannon last time out, managed to run six tries past the ‘Rock defence to notch only their second win of the campaign.
Number 8 Chris McCarey bagged two, while flanker Colin Atkinson, centre Darren Cave, lock Lewis Stevenson and prop John Andress were also on the scoresheet.
‘Quins had their bonus point collected by half-time, leading by 28-21. ‘Rock secured two losing bonus points thanks to second half tries from full-back Fionn Carr and flanker Richard Woods.
In only the sides’ third ever league meeting in Dublin, ‘Rock got the upper hand early on as centre Simon Morrissey, benefiting from a slick back line move, and Leinster lock Adam Byrnes, who charged over from close range, both crossed for converted tries.
But in an excellent 20-minute spell, Andy Ward’s visitors struck for four converted tries without reply. McCarey rediscovered some of his Ulster Senior League form to power over for the first two scores.
Skipper Atkinson was then mauled over and Ireland Under-21 international Cave slipped through two tackles to chalk up ‘Quins’ bonus point.
‘Rock still had time to drive Leinster’s Samoan prop Fosi Pala’amo over for an injury-time try, which Carr converted to leave his side just 28-21 down at the break.
Carr, who has been having an excellent season, stroked over a penalty after 35 metres out after the restart and then bagged his fifth try of the league campaign to nose ‘Rock into a 31-28 advantage.
It got even better for Emmett Farrell’s home side when Woods, who has returned from a stint in England, clambered over in the right corner for ‘Rock’s fifth try.
Stung into action, ‘Quins hit back almost immediately with Stevenson and Andress scoring, and excellent out-half Niall O’Connor adding a penalty and a conversion to complete his 13-point kicking haul.
With form like this, perhaps the Belfast men, who are now only a point behind second-from-bottom UCD, should visit Áras an Uachtaráin more often.
Ward and company were invited to meet President Mary McAleese at her Phoenix Park residence last Thursday, after Harlequins’ historic agreement this season to allow GAA club St. Brigid’s use their pitches and club house facilities at Deramore Park.
BLACKROCK COLLEGE: team to follow
BELFAST HARLEQUINS: team to follow
Referee: Ger English (Munster)
Buccaneers 12 Dolphin 27, Dubarry Park
Scorers: Buccaneers: Pens: Tom Cregan 4
Dolphin: Tries: Eric Moloney, Peter Owens, Rory McGrath; Cons: Barry Keeshan 3; Pen: Keeshan; Drop: Keeshan
Dolphin captain Rory McGrath helped his side end a two-match losing streak as he scored in their 27-12 win over Buccaneers at Dubarry Park on Saturday.
Second row McGrath, who also plays Gaelic football for Mid Kerry, notched a 62nd-minute try to crown the Leesiders’ first ever victory over Buccs.
Two tries inside the first 12 minutes from centres Eric Moloney and Peter Owens handed Dolphin a 17-6 buffer at half-time.
Full-back Tom Cregan booted four penalties for Buccs but man of the match Barry Keeshan, the Dolphin number 10, matched his 12 points with three conversions, a penalty and a drop goal of his own.
Dolphin’s backs lorded it at the start as their ability to move the ball at pace and maintain an excellent control of possession saw them get in for their two early tries.
Moloney and Owens, the former Australian Sevens player, both got over for their third tries of the campaign and with Munster’s Tomas O’Leary and James Coughlan both included in their starting line-up, a Dolphin rout looked on the cards.
But Buccs were not going to lie down and some good foraging from their forwards set up two penalty chances for Cregan who struck them cleanly through the posts. In between, a snappy delivery from O’Leary set Keeshan up for a smartly taken drop goal.
Dolphin lost their openside flanker George Finn to a yellow card, early in the second half, but Buccs could only trade penalties – with Cregan taking his season’s tally to 98 points.
The visitors’ try-scoring chances were severely limited and Dolphin struck the crucial blow just after the hour mark when, despite losing their own lineout throw, the ball squirted back out on the Dolphin side and McGrath was alert enough to work a quick drive which saw him pile over.
BUCCANEERS: team to follow
DOLPHIN: team to follow
Referee: Alan Lewis (Leinster)
CLONTARF 22 ST. MARY’S COLLEGE 23, Castle Avenue
Scorers: Clontarf: Tries: Conor Keegan, Daragh O’Shea, Matt Nethery; Cons: Nethery 2; Pen: Nethery
Mary’s: Tries: John McWeeney 2, Hugh Hogan; Con: Jonathan Sexton; Pens: Sexton 2
St. Mary’s College won for only the second time in their last six league games as Jonathan Sexton booted them to a 23-22 victory over Clontarf at Castle Avenue.
Sexton landed an injury-time penalty, from the halfway line, to see Mary’s come from behind.
Tries from winger John McWeeney (2) and number 8 Hugh Hogan helped Mary’s to a 17-10 lead at the break. Mary’s had former Clontarf players Matty Duggan and Robert Sweeney packing down in their front row.
‘Tarf saw centre Conor Keegan over for a try, midway through the first half, and while both full-back Daragh O’Shea and winger Matt Nethery touched down to help the hosts go 22-20 in front, Sexton denied them at the death.
Keegan, who only made his AIB League debut last month, scampered through a gap to score his first try and see the hosts 5-0 in front as the first quarter came to a close.
On 24 minutes, Mary’s charged back into the game thanks to former Leinster and Ireland wide man McWeeney. He intercepted a pass on his own 22-metre line and showed searing pace to run straight to the ‘Tarf try line.
That score went unconverted and while a Nethery penalty edged the hosts into a 10-5 lead, Mary’s struck back again with two tries, one of which Sexton, Leinster’s back-up out-half, converted.
An excellent rolling maul drive sent Hogan over and another spilt ball from Clontarf allowed Mary’s, with prop Duggan setting up the attack, to work last year’s skipper McWeeney over to the right of the posts.
Never more than a converted score in front, Mary’s simply could not relax and tries from O’Shea and Nethery, with scrum half Fiach O’Loughlin vital in the build-up to both scores, sent last season’s beaten finalists back in front – 22-20.
Sexton though has the last laugh as showing no nerves, he walloped over that last-gasp kick with his right boot to decide this derby tie and take his season’s tally to 89 points.
The defeat ended ‘Tarf’s six-match unbeaten run and sees them shift down from third to fourth place in the Division One table.
CLONTARF: C Keane; N O’Brien, D O’Shea, C Keegan, M Nethery; N McNamara, F O’Loughlin (capt); J Wickham, N Carson, A Clarke, A Trenier, J Duffy, S Crawford, M Garvey, D Quinn.
Replacements used: K Dorrian for Wickham (64 mins), A O’Donnell for Carson (67), D O’Brien for Quinn (68).
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE: R Gannon; J McWeeney, S Grissing, P Brophy, R Doherty; J Sexton, M D’Arcy; M Duggan, Richard Sweeney, Robert Sweeney, G Logan, E Keane, W Duggan, H Hogan, B O’Donoghue.
Replacements used: H Gervias for Gannon (47 mins), P Nash for Keane (56).
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Munster)
CORK CONSTITUTION 19 GALWEGIANS 15, Temple Hill
Scorers: Cork Con: Tries: Richie Lane 2, Cronan Healy; Cons: Lane 2
Galwegians: Tries: John Cleary 2; Con: Paddy O’Toole; Pen: O’Toole
Richie Lane took his league try tally to six in ten games as Cork Constitution maintained their title push by beating Galwegians 19-15 at Temple Hill on Saturday.
Former Ireland Under-21 international Lane crossed the whitewash twice as Con saw off a gallant ‘Wegians side that faltered in the final straight.
‘Wegians hit the front when experienced winger John Cleary burst over in the left corner. Paddy O’Toole tagged on a penalty but a converted try from Lane saw Con close the gap to 8-7 at half-time.
Paul Young’s visitors struck back through Cleary, yet Con’s superior fitness told in the final quarter – wingers Cronan Healy and Lane dotted down the clinching scores.
Using their strong-built pack to bash Con up front, ‘Wegians established an early foot hold and a simple case of numbers out wide saw Cleary put over in the right corner.
A ruck infringement allowed O’Toole, who missed his conversion attempt, whack over a 35-metre penalty, however the league leaders wormed their way into contention when Lane ran a great support line to score and convert.
Great continuity from the ‘Wegians backs and forwards sent Cleary hurtling over for his second try which O’Toole succeeded in converting.
Still, Young’s charges were never allowed to get out of sight and while ‘Wegians were down to 14 men, the hosts struck for the best try of the afternoon.
Con produced some lovely passing, in a sweeping move that saw them go wide on two occasions. The second time, full-back Denis Hurley carried forward and centre Tom Gleeson offloaded in perfect time for Healy to touch down.
A second Lane try followed, but try as they might, Brian Walsh’s Leesiders failed to make the necessary breakthrough for a fourth touchdown.
That means Con’s lead at Division One’s summit has been cut to two points, with their chief chasers UL Bohemians securing a bonus point win up in Ballymena.
CORK CONSTITUTION: D Hurley; R Lane, D Nethery, T Gleeson, C Healy; D Lyons, P McKee; Tom Ryan, R Quinn, Tim Ryan, J Moloney, S O’Connor, M O’Connell, B Cuttriss, F Cogan (capt).
GALWEGIANS: K Hickman; J Cleary, A Barrett, N Wakely, J Wakely; P O’Toole, T Tierney; D O’Connell, C Muldoon, D O’Brien, L Scahill, A O’Brien, A Conboy (capt), B O’Connor, L Casserly.
Referee: John Carvill (Leinster)
DUNGANNON 20 LANSDOWNE 8, Stevenson Park
Scorers: Dungannon: Tries: Richard McCarter, Neil Patterson; Cons: McCarter 2; Pens: McCarter 2
Lansdowne: Try: John Coleman; Pen: Robbie Dolan
Dungannon continued their rich vein of form as tries from out-half Richard McCarter and winger Neil Patterson saw them account for Lansdowne in a 20-8 win at Stevenson Park.
Without Ryan Caldwell and Declan Fitzpatrick, who were on Ulster duty, and injured hooker Nigel Brady, ‘Gannon still had enough strength to grab their fifth straight league win on Saturday.
The on-fire McCarter scored an early intercept try and Patterson went over on 35 minutes for a 17-8 interval lead.
Patterson’s score, set up by a Glen Telford pass, came at a crucial time as Lansdowne, with young scrum half Derry Coughlan again impressing behind the pack, had closed the gap to 10-8.
McCarter, who almost single-handedly accounted for Ballymena last time out, struck a fifth-minute penalty to get the hosts up and running on the scoreboard.
The game was just 11 minutes’ old when the ‘Gannon number 10, who has been capped by the Barbarians, intercepted a stray Lansdowne pass and ran in under the posts for an opportunist try.
The home side then lost flanker Oisin Hennessy to the sin-bin and the visitors came back into it.
Lansdowne full-back Robbie Dolan, who missed a seventh-minute chance, banged over a penalty and winger John Coleman managed to muscle over for an unconverted try soon after, as the headquarters’ side had a spell of dominance.
But the County Tyrone men came good, with a well-timed pass from the returning Hennessy putting Patterson over for his try, before they managed to completely control the second period.
McCarter, having missed two penalties, was successful with his third place kick which came on 55 minutes. ‘Gannon had prop Gary Maxwell yellow-carded in the 75th-minute for a technicality but it made no difference as Jeremy Davidson’s men won out.
Praising his side, Dungannon boss Davidson said: “You have to be delighted with a performance like that. We were superb, especially defensively where we got through an enormous amount of work.
“We were under a bit of pressure in the first half but we were able to step it up on the restart. We were short a number of players but the boys who came in stepped up to the mark.”
‘Gannon prop Glen Sinnamon was a deserved winner of the Tyrone Crystal man of the match award.
DUNGANNON: J McGuckin; M Scott, P Magee, G Telford, N Patterson; R McCarter, D Spence; G Maxwell, K O’Kane, G Sinnamon, M Rainey, S McCarroll, A Hughes, O Hennessy, T Anderson.
LANSDOWNE: R Dolan; J Lynn, N Walsh, G Stafford, J Coleman; B O’Shea, S Whelan; J Lyne, G O’Meara, K Cleere, A Maher, D Toner, D Lavin (capt), N Ronan, R Jones
Referee: Dermot Moloney (Munster)