It is very tight at the top of the table in AIB League Division 3, with long-time leaders Midleton now leading by just a single point. The Cork side took their unbeaten run to 11 matches with a draw against Rainey Old Boys, but Queen’s University are pushing hard in second following a nine-try 57-0 demolition of Suttonians.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 3 RESULTS –
Portadown 11 Sunday’s Well 16, Chambers Park
Banbridge 28 Wanderers 14, Rifle Park
County Carlow 16 Nenagh Ormond 25, Oak Park
Connemara 17 Barnhall 10, Monastery Field
Midleton 13 Rainey Old Boys 13, Towns Park
Naas 31 Instonians 14, Forenaughts
Navan 22 Ards 23, Balreask Old
Queen’s University 57 Suttonians 0, Dub Lane
A buoyant Queen’s University notched their seventh try-scoring bonus point in ten league games as they put Suttonians to the sword on home soil.
Brian Robinson’s youngsters have a game in hand on pacesetters Midleton, and with it being away to bottom side County Carlow on Saturday week, Queen’s look set to take over at the top ahead of the final three rounds of matches.
Scrum half Ian Porter scored two tries and kicked six conversions, while blindside flanker Paddy McGowan also touched down twice.
Suttonians, who are in mid-table, struggled to keep tabs on the hosts’ pacy back-line and the Queen’s forwards also put in an impressive, with prop Paul Karayiannis and openside flanker and captain Mark Robinson getting amongst the tries.
Midleton remain one of only unbeaten two teams left in the AIB League this season – Division 2 leaders Lansdowne being the other – but their 100% record was taken away when Rainey Old Boys drew 13-13 with them.
At Towns Park, Midleton, coached by Hamish Adams, outscored the Magherafelt men by two tries to one, but an eight-point kicking contribution from winger Ronan Devlin guiding Rainey to a share of the spoils.
Devlin kicked an injury-time penalty to complete a brilliant comeback from the visitors, were trailed 13-0 with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining.
As Rainey out-half Gavin Martin missed two early drop goal attempts, winger Jeff Hitchmough kicked Midleton ahead with a first quarter penalty.
Second half tries from Ger Sweeney and team captain Dave Lee put some distance between the sides, with the east Cork outfit establishing dominance in the lineout.
But, despite losing two players to the sin-bin, including skipper Richard McCrea, Rainey got off the mark with a long range penalty from Devlin.
In a dramatic finish, Devlin converted an intercept try from winger Andrew Campbell, who swooped on a pass on the visitors’ 22, and he kicked the levelling penalty after McCrea had charged down a Midleton kick.
Meanwhile, Banbridge and Nenagh Ormond maintained their runs in third and fourth place respectively. Bann ran out 28-14 winners over Wanderers in a game that included six tries and seven yellow cards, with the home forwards bossing matters at Rifle Park.
Neville Farr converted tries from Jonny Weir, Stephen Irvine, Adam Ervine and Matthew Irvine for an in-form Banbridge – they have won their last six league games.
Wanderers, who are now down to seventh, grabbed two late consolation scores from Craig Dalton and David O’Keeffe.
Click here to view footage of the tries from the Banbridge v Wanderers clash.
Nenagh Ormond kept up their push for the play-offs with a 25-16 defeat of bottom side County Carlow at Oak Park. John Lillis, David Corcoran and David Walsh shared out the Tipperary team’s tries, while Lillis booted two conversions and two penalties.
Sunday’s Well are the third Munster club in the top five currently. They moved up to fifth in the table, courtesy of a 16-11 win at Portadown. After remaining scoreless in the first half, the Cork side improved after the break with John Kidney scoring a try and Eamon Ronan kicking a conversion, two penalties and a drop goal.
Ards eased their relegation worries with a thrilling 23-22 victory over Navan at Balreask Old. Full-back Michael Lawton was a key figure for the County Down side who were missing a number of injured and unavailable players.
Navan, helped on their way by an early Simon Hogan try, had led 10-3 at half-time, with their beefy pack taking the game to the visitors.
The Meath men were rocked back onto their heels when Lawton and Kenny Heslip crossed for tries for Ards, early in the second half. Indeed, Lawton added a penalty to complete a terrific scoring burst of 17 points in five minutes.
Navan turned to their forwards again to play them back into contention. They set up the platform for scrum half Kieran Mattson to dummy his way over for an unconverted try, and the home side secured their bonus point on 69 minutes when number 8 Lee Jackson muscled his way over.
Ryan Roberts tagged on the conversion to make it 22-20 in Navan’s favour, but more drama followed after Lawton had kicked Ards back in front with an 80th minute penalty.
Navan rampaged forward, chasing a number of kicks down and forcing a five-metre scrum. Jackson looked to have forced his way over for the clinching try, but referee Ger English ruled it out for accidental offside and Ards doggedly held on for their fourth win of the campaign.
Elsewhere, Connemara and Naas both gained home wins. David Newman scored Connemara’s try and Sean Joyce landed four penalties as the All Blacks scored a 17-10 success, turning the tables on Barnhall at Monastery Field.
The County Galway club are fourth-from-bottom and travel to Midleton next weekend. Naas, who have also struggled this season, put in one of their best performances of the league run to beat Instonians 31-17.
The Kildare men ran in five tries against ‘Inst at Forenaughts, with place-kicker David Aherne bagging one and Andy Shirley, Johnny Holmes and Joey Moran also crossing the ‘Inst whitewash. The Belfast visitors had tries from assistant coach Seamus Mallon and Patrick Marks.