Ballynahinch scored another surprise win in the AIB Cup as they sent AIB League Division One side Galwegians crashing out of the competition at Crowley Park.
AIB CUP QUARTER-FINAL: Saturday, February 14
GALWEGIANS 22 BALLYNAHINCH 26, Crowley Park
Scorers: Galwegians: Tries: Dave Nolan, Brian Murphy, Liam Casserly; Cons: Robert O’Beirn 2; Pen: Robert O’Beirn
Ballynahinch: Tries: Stuart Morrow, Neil Hanna, Adam Craig 2; Cons: Ryan Bambry 3
Ballynahinch are riding high in Division Two but their form has been patchy since their historic first Ulster Senior League win last month and their AIB Cup third round defeat of 2008 winners Shannon.
However, Derek Suffern’s side turned on the style in Galway, scoring three converted tries between the 20th and 30th minutes, to race ahead of ‘Wegians.
Winger Stuart Morrow got the first when a ‘Wegians pass was intercepted and numbers out wide allowed ‘Hinch to claim the game’s first points.
Their New Zealand out-half Ryan Bambry added the conversion and then hooker Neil Hanna barged his way over the line after a lightning break from full-back Adam Craig.
Five minutes before the break, Craig got his name on the scoresheet and with Bambry again tagging on the extras, the County Down outfit were 21-0 to the good.
On the stroke of half-time, Galwegians managed to open their scoring account with a penalty from full-back Robert O’Beirn.
It was a completely different game in the second half as ‘Wegians pinned the visitors back into their half and came up with some big plays themselves.
Dave Nolan wrestled his way over the ‘Hinch line on 52 minutes to spark the westerners’ fightback but O’Beirn missed the conversion.
South African centre Chris Brigl supplied the pass for Brian Murphy to go over for a deserved try on 68 minutes.
With Hanna sin-binned and ‘Hinch down to 14 players for the final few minutes, the pressure was definitely on them.
As time ticked on, they gave when ‘Wegians back rower Liam Casserly was on the end of a pushover drive which resulted in the home side’s third try.
O’Beirn’s conversion sent his side in front for the first time at 22-21. But there was a sting in the tail. ‘Wegians fell asleep at a crucial moment in one of the final phases of play.
Ballynahinch created a break up the right wing and full-back Craig was able to slice through and score out wide. The conversion was not needed as ‘Wegians were out for the count.