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AIB League: Ballymena Bounce Back, Blackrock Hold On For Four-Try Victory

AIB League: Ballymena Bounce Back, Blackrock Hold On For Four-Try Victory

A second half revival against Clontarf at Castle Avenue on Saturday saw Ballymena battle to their first AIB League win since last January, while Blackrock College also secured their first win of the new campaign with a four-try 29-22 dismissal of Dungannon at home.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, November 10

Clontarf 22 Ballymena 23, Castle Avenue

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Scorers: Clontarf: Tries: Alan Trenier, Niall Carson, Derek Keane, Penalty try; Con: Ian Keatley
Ballymena: Tries: Craig Woods, Adrian Kirkpatrick; Cons: Donovan Raw 2; Pens: Donovan Raw 3

Clontarf v Ballymena Match Pics

Ballymena picked up their first win of the current AIB League campaign as they beat Clontarf 23-22 at Castle Avenue thanks to a late Donovan Raw penalty.

The Braidmen came from 22-13 behind to beat Clontarf for the eighth time in 12 league games. Tries from lock Alan Trenier, hooker Niall Carson and winger Derek Keane helped the Dubliners into a 15-10 interval lead.

They tagged on a penalty try, but tries from winger Craig Woods and prop Adrian Kirkpatrick and out-half Raw’s 13-point kicking contribution saw the visitors come out on top.

Ballymena ventured south looking to gain some revenge from last March’s 36-6 league defeat to the same opposition at their Eaton Park base.

Coach Jacques Benade was able to include Ulster centre Seamus Mallon in his side, while Clontarf stuck with the young half-back partnership of Ian Keatley and Paul O’Donohoe that served them so well in last weekend’s 31-15 win at St. Mary’s College.

In what was a dour game dominated by the windy conditions, Ballymena had the benefit of the elements in the opening half but ‘Tarf frustrated them by holding onto possession for long stretches.

‘Tarf’s back row unit of Simon Crawford, New Zealander Chris Elvin and Martin Garvey were to the fore and the hosts took a first quarter lead thanks to Trenier’s try, with Keatley supplying the try-scoring pass.

A similar maul effort led to Carson’s score and Keane had the strength and speed to make the corner late in the half. At the other end, a neat back-line move led to Woods crossing the whitewash, with Raw’s penalty and conversion ensuring that the visitors were only five points behind.

A penalty try, which came as Ballymena pulled down a maul close to their posts, edged the Dubliners further clear but that was as good as it got for Andy Wood’s men.

Keatley and Donohoe were not having much influence on the proceedings and the boot of South African recruit Raw helped Ballymena get back in touch.

He kicked two penalties, either side of Kirkpatrick’s seven-pointer, to see Benade’s charges claim a much-needed win – their first win in ten AIB League games. Their last victory was back in the first week of January (40-10 away to UCD).

Blackrock College 29 Dungannon 22, Stradbrook

Scorers: Blackrock: Tries: Fionn Carr, Gary Brown, Shane Monahan 2; Cons: Fionn Carr 3; Pen: Fionn Carr
Dungannon: Tries: Dale Black, Michael Rainey, Paul Magee; Cons: John McGuckin 2; Pen; John McGuckin

Blackrock College beat Dungannon to gain their first win of the new AIB League campaign, with Leinster ‘A’ player Fionn Carr tallying up 14 points in the 29-22 success at Stradbrook.

Leinster winger Gary Brown and former Leinster and Ireland hooker Shane Byrne both started for ‘Rock with the Stradbrook residents notching their bonus point try by the 53rd-minute.

A converted try and penalty from full-back Carr had ‘Rock leading 10-3 at half-time and tries from wingers Brown and Shane Monahan (2) followed. 29-3 down, Dungannon salvaged a losing bonus point with tries from Dale Black, Michael Rainey and Paul Magee.

Having only won once in their last eleven visits to Leinster, Dungannon travelled south hoping to make amends for some previous missed opportunities – including last Saturday’s 23-13 reversal at UCD.

‘Rock, who were pipped 24-23 at Terenure College seven days ago, have kept largely the same side together over the past three weeks but were bolstered by the addition this afternoon of Leinster man Brown, whose pace has lit up many an AIB League match.

The hosts hit the front in the seventh-minute when Carr converted a penalty and they moved 10-0 clear in the 25th-minute thanks to a well-taken try and conversion from the same player.

Dungannon full-back John McGuckin, kicking in the absence of regulars Richard McCarter and Adam Larkin, landed a 33rd-minute penalty for the visitors’ only points of the opening half.

‘Gannon were caught off guard just a minute after the restart though as Brown used his pace to finish over an excellent ‘Rock move in the corner – 15-3.

‘Rock were beginning to dominate up front and with things clicking behind the scrum, winger Monahan, a member of Ireland Under-20s’ Grand Slam-winning side, cut loose.

He scored his two tries after 48 and 53 minutes to race the hosts into a 29-3, with Carr converting both efforts. ‘Gannon lost winger Dale Black to the sin bin during this time.

‘Rock also had a player yellow carded – back rower Darren Hayes walked in the 52nd-minute for a technical offence – and this seemed to spark the beginning of the Tyrone side’s comeback.

Black returned to score their first try. Lock Rainey bulldozed over in the 70th-minute and in the final minute of normal time, outside centre Magee crashed through to earn a losing bonus for his side at 29-22.

The result moves ‘Rock up to eleventh in the Division One table, while Dungannon have slipped down to twelfth ahead of next weekend’s visit of bottom side Greystones to Stevenson Park.