Andy Ward’s Belfast Harlequins side moved to the top of the First Trust Ulster Senior League table courtesy of a nine-try 59-3 demolition of City of Derry at Deramore Park on Saturday.
2007/08 FIRST TRUST ULSTER SENIOR LEAGUE: Saturday, October 20
Ballymena 13 Malone 13, Eaton Park
Ballynahinch 18 Instonians 34, Ballymacarn Park
Banbridge 17 Dungannon 8, Rifle Park
Belfast Harlequins 59 City of Derry 3, Deramore Park
Centre Thomas Horner, a new signing from Malone, grabbed an impressive hat-trick of tries as Harlequins eased to their sixth win on the trot in this season’s Ulster Senior League.
With Dungannon losing 17-8 at Banbridge, ‘Quins moved top of the table by running nine tries past Derry – South African Willem Slabbert converted seven of them.
The second half saw Ward’s men do most of the damage as they put 40 points on their Division Three opponents. Early tries from number eight Chris McCarey (4 minutes) and Horner (9, 13) helped the hosts to a 19-3 interval lead, with Ioane Ioane kicking a penalty for Derry.
The second half was all ‘Quins with flanker and captain Colin Atkinson (42), Horner (43), Slabbert (51), winger Simon Rea (68), replacement winger Rory Blake-Knox (71) and McCarey again (74) all crossing for tries.
Dungannon, who are now five points behind ‘Quins, were shocked by Division Three outfit Banbridge. Tries from Gareth Martin and Reuben Lucas, allied to seven points from the boot of Richard Finlay, saw Andre Bester’s men to a famous win.
The victory ended a run of five straight defeats in the competition for Bann, who begin their AIB League next weekend with a trip to Rainey Old Boys. Dungannon’s points on Saturday were scored by Johnny Turkington (try) and Neil Patterson (penalty).
Ballymena are a point behind Banbridge in ninth – but have two games in hand – after drawing 13-13 with Malone at Eaton Park. Craig Woods scored 10 of the Braidmen’s points, with Don Raw also dropping a goal.
The highlight of Wood’s scoring was his try in the final quarter. The young scrum half broke off the back of a scrum and ran 40 metres to touch down and he also added a brilliant touchline conversion.
But Malone bounced back to nab a draw thanks to a late try from Chris Rowan, which Gareth Fry managed to convert. Fry had kicked an earlier drop goal and a penalty.
Meanwhile at Ballymacarn Park, Instonians claimed a 34-18 victory over their former Division Three rivals Ballynahinch.
In addition to two penalty goals, former Ireland international Niall Malone converted all four of the visitors’ tries which were dotted down by Davy O’Hara, Scott Uren, James McCullough and Mark Wilson.
‘Hinch, who lie third a point behind Dungannon, had tries from Chris Napier and Aaron Forbes, while Johnny Coen kicked a conversion and Kiwi assistant coach Daniel Soper landed a penalty and a drop goal.