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Lansdowne Lose Out To In-Form Ballynahinch

Lansdowne Lose Out To In-Form Ballynahinch

Ballynahinch served up a dose of the Bank Holiday blues for Lansdowne as they beat the Dubliners 29-13 in a lively encounter at Ballymacarn Park to advance to next Saturday’s AIB League Division Two final.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION TWO SEMI-FINAL: Monday, May 4

BALLYNAHINCH 29 LANSDOWNE 13, Ballymacarn Park

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Scorers: Ballynahinch: Tries: Robert Greer, Neil Hanna, Nevin Spence, Jonny Cullen; Cons: Ryan Bambry 3; Pen: Ryan Bambry
Lansdowne: Tries: Greg Stafford, Ross McCarron; Pen: Charl Oosthuizen

Buoyant Ballynahinch has risen to the task of playing four games in the space of nine days and the fourth saw them end Lansdowne’s play-off hopes with a four-try defeat at Ballymacarn Park.

Beaten 13-10 by the Dublin 4 outfit earlier in the season, ‘Hinch were eager for revenge and their confidence was high after winning the Ulster Senior Cup for the first time last Friday.

The result means Derek Suffern’s men remain on course for their fourth trophy of the season, with the AIB Cup, Ulster Senior League trophy and Ulster Senior Cup already secured.

But they will certainly be up against it in Saturday’s final at Dooradoyle against fellow promoted team UCC, who topped the Division Two table and beat ‘Hinch 21-9 at the Mardyke in January.

Indeed, that was the County Down side’s last defeat. They have won their last 15 games since then, across three competitions.

Lansdowne had the forceful wind behind them in the first half but they could not take advantage of the elements, turning around at half-time with a 14-8 deficit.

The division’s top points scorer, Charl Oosthuizen, missed his first two penalty attempts and Ballynahinch had a try ruled out after a forward pass from full-back Jonny Cullen.

But the ‘Hinch faithful did not have to wait long for their opening try. On 22 minutes, flanker Robert Greer claimed a 22-metre drop out and brilliantly sliced his way through the Lansdowne defence to score under the posts.

Ryan Bambry, the hero from the Ulster Senior Cup final win over Ballymena, added the conversion and the hosts increased their lead, seven minutes before the break, when hooker Neil Hanna touched down.

Kyle Corrigan did the initial damage after taking a high ball and swerving past two Lansdowne players. He linked with Gareth Rourke and then Chris Napier took the ball on before he offloaded for Hanna to charge over for a seven-pointer.

Lansdowne needed a quick response and they got it. Keeping their side in the hunt, Oosthuizen kicked a much-needed penalty and then centre Greg Stafford grabbed a late try from a quick tap penalty.

The Lansdowne revival continued on the restart. With just a few minutes gone in the second half, Ross McCarron showed a clean pair of heels to the ‘Hinch cover to get over for another try out wide.

But New Zealander Bambry steadied ‘Hinch with a penalty and the result was put beyond doubt when pacy centre Nevin Spence and Cullen added their names to the list of try scorers.