Malone opened the 2007/08 AIB Cup on Thursday night with a seven-try 50-5 success against their Ulster rivals Ards, with winger Chris Rowan and full-back Johnny Burgess scoring two tries apiece.
AIB CUP: FIRST ROUND: Thursday, October 4
MALONE 50 ARDS 5, Gibson Park
Scorers: Malone: Tries: Chris Rowan 2, Michael Bradford, Philip Coulter, Johnny Burgess 2, Peter Baird; Cons: Gareth Fry 6; Pen: Gareth Fry
Ards: Try: James McCavery
Malone got over the first round hurdle in the AIB Cup at the third attempt – the previous two years have seen them lose two first round matches to Terenure College (19-12 and 12-7) – and the Belfast men were deserving winners.
There was little chance of an upset on the cards with referee Jude Quinn blowing the half-time whistle with Malone 31-0 to the good. These had met in the Ulster Senior League at the same venue last weekend with Malone 39-3 winners, so Ards travelled with revenge on their minds.
However, it took Malone just two minutes to open the scoring as their forwards gained an early foothold and a quick link of passes out the backs put winger Rowan over in the right corner.
Out-half Gareth Fry, who finished with a kicking haul of 15 points, brilliantly banged over the conversion from the touchline and he tagged on a sixth-minute penalty to put Malone into double figures.
Ards tried valiantly to halt the progress of the home pack but their defence was breached again on the 20-minute mark when lock Sam McDonald, one of Malone’s new signings, barged forward off the back of a ruck and teed up hooker Michael Bradford for a well-worked try.
Fry converted and added the extras to his half-back partner Philip Coulter’s try, eight minutes from the interval.
Coulter sniped over from close range and Rowan managed to get in for his second touchdown just before the break when a loose pass saw an Ards attack break down and the Malone number 14 kicked ahead and took advantage of some stuttering defence from the visitors to score.
The Malone scoring continued barely a minute after the resumption when centre John Anderson sent the supporting Burgess over for his side’s fifth try.
Ards then had a period of pressure but dropped passes and knock ons were robbing the Division Three outfit of some valuable field position.
One such loose pass, close to the Malone try line, was gobbled up left winger Peter Baird and he had enough pace to race the length of the field and cross the whitewash, with Fry converting.
Ard nipped in for a consolation try, ten minutes from time, as lock and captain James McCavery muscled over but Malone had the last word with Burgess grabbing his second try.
Fry missed his first conversion of the night but the damage was already done as Malone impressively advanced to a second round meeting with either County Carlow or Midleton on Saturday week.