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AIB League: ‘Quins Hold On For Vital Win

AIB League: ‘Quins Hold On For Vital Win

Belfast Harlequins scored a vital 20-12 win in the fight to save their Division One bacon as they beat Ballymena at Eaton Park on Saturday afternoon.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, April 7

BALLYMENA 12 BELFAST HARLEQUINS 20, Eaton Park

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Scorers: Ballymena: Pens: Craig Woods 3; Drop: Andy Maxwell
Belfast Harlequins: Tries: Stuart Philpott, Paul Marshall; Cons: Niall O’Connor 2; Pens: Niall O’Connor 2

Tries in either half from hooker Stuart Philpott and scrum half Paul Marshall helped ‘Quins to their fourth win in five league games.

The result, which keeps ‘Quins out of the bottom two, was far from conclusive and Ballymena led 6-0 early on.

The Braidmen, whose points came from three Craig Woods penalties and an Andy Maxwell drop goal, still led 9-7 at half-time but Marshall’s try, coupled with Niall O’Connor’s 10-point kicking haul, saw the visitors triumph.

BLACKROCK COLLEGE 15 SHANNON 26, Stradbrook

Scorers: Blackrock: Pens: Fionn Carr 5
Shannon: Tries: Pat O’Connor, Andrew Finn; Cons: Andrew Thompson 2; Pens: Andrew Thompson 4

Shannon’s grip on the Division One title remains a firm one after they overhauled Blackrock College at Stradbrook.

Shannon needed a win to keep themselves in play-off contention, and their fourth success in five league games sees them stay in fourth place, ahead of Garryowen on scoring difference.

Four penalties from full-back Fionn Carr had ‘Rock leading 12-10 at half-time, but crucially winger Pat O’Connor got over for Shannon’s first try just before the interval.

The champions took control in the second half, centre and man-of-the-match Andrew Thompson kicked three further penalties before full-back Andrew Finn dotted down in injury-time.

Carr, the former Irish Under-21 international, landed four first half penalties to take his tally for this season’s league to 152 points, but ‘Rock had little in the way of try-scoring chances.

O’Connor’s score came at just the right time for the defending champions as they struck off a lineout and strung together some great phases before the ball was eventually touched down.

Lock Fergal Walsh made the initial charge forward, then prop Les Hogan made considerable ground by shrugging off four tacklers before Tadhg Bennett, who was playing at out-half with Thompson at number 12, fed O’Connor with the try-scoring pass.

Three successive penalties from the boot of Thompson saw Shannon hit the front, with Carr replying with a quarter of an hour to go.

19-15 was looking like the final score line, until Shannon struck for their second try in the seventh minute of injury-time. As ‘Rock tried to run a Bennett kick out of their 22, disaster happened when the ball was dropped and gobbled up by the visitors for Finn to scorch over for the clinching try.

BUCCANEERS 16 UCD 37, Dubarry Park

Scorers: Buccaneers: Try: Benny Gilligan; Con: Tom Cregan; Pens: Tom Cregan 3
UCD: Tries: Vasily Artemiev, Richie Mandeno, Paul O’Donohoe, Fergus McFadden, Ross McCarron; Cons: Fergus McFadden 3; Pens: Fergus McFadden 2

UCD ran amok at Dubarry Park this afternoon, winning by 37-16, to condemn Buccaneers to life in Division Two next season.

The students crossed for five tries – backs Vasily Artemiev, Paul O’Donohoe, Fergus McFadden and Ross McCarron and Kiwi lock Richie Mandeno all scored – as Buccs slipped to bottom spot with just one game remaining.

Belfast Harlequins’ surprise win at Ballymena means the Pirates have been relegated as third-from-bottom ‘Quins, who have 24 points, are six points clear of Buccs ahead of the final round of matches.

Buccs were 30-9 down at half-time and effectively out of the game, with full-back Tom Cregan kicking their three penalties.

The hosts did get over for a 68th-minute try from prop Benny Gilligan but UCD, who have to beat Harlequins in their final game to stave off relegation, were just too good.

Russian-born winger Artemiev, who has shown good form since the turn of the year, cantered over for UCD’s opening try inside the first minute, making use of some poor defending from the Pirates.

Mandeno crossed close to the posts, after a concerted fourth-minute drive from the UCD forwards, to chalk up their second touchdown, which McFadden converted.

The UCD centre tagged on a penalty and Buccs were 15-0 down inside eight frantic minutes, hardly the start coach Geoff Moylan was craving from his side.

Buccs then threatened to make a game of it when Cregan landed three successive penalties. He looked set to be given a chance to strike over a fourth, but referee Ger English reversed his decision and UCD soon worked another kickable chance for McFadden.

He obliged and UCD went on to dominate the remainder of the half with scrum half O’Donohoe, one of Ireland’s Under-20 Grand Slam-winning heroes, and McFadden himself racing over for tries.

Buccs had hooker Kieran Gorman sin-binned in the 55th-minute but dug deep to bundle Gilligan over for a converted try, twelve minutes from time.

UCD had another one of their U-20 internationals, back rower Kevin Sheahan, flashed a yellow card but they ended a game which could turn their season around on a high note, with McCarron’s try in injury-time.

CORK CONSTITUTION 62 TERENURE COLLEGE 12, Temple Hill

Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: Richie Lane 4, Tom Gleeson 2, Ross Noonan, Denis Hurley, David O’Leary; Cons: Richie Lane 7; Pen: Richie Lane
Terenure: Tries: Shane Cullen, Mark Mahony; Con: Robbie McCarthy

Cork Constitution were in seventh heaven at Temple Hill on Saturday afternoon as man-of-the-match Richie Lane inspired them to a memorable win over Terenure College.

Con’s seventh league win on the trot guaranteed them a home draw in the semi-finals, and nobody was more pleased than winger Lane who collected a league record 37 points.

The former Irish Under-21 international scored four tries, seven conversions and a penalty. Backs Tom Gleeson (2), Denis Hurley and David O’Leary and lock Ross Noonan also touched down for Con, who led 29-12 at half-time.

Shane Cullen and Mark Mahony scrambled over for Terenure’s two tries.