It is a 1-2-3 for Ulster clubs at the top of All-Ireland League Division 2, with first-placed Ballynahinch and their nearest challengers, Malone and Ballymena, all securing a brace of bonus point wins in the opening two rounds.
ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 2 RESULTS: Saturday, October 9
Ballymena 31 Old Crescent 3, Eaton Park
Ballynahinch 45 Terenure College 10, Ballymacarn Park
Bective Rangers 12 Old Wesley 5, Donnybrook
Clonakilty 14 Corinthians 36, Shannonvale Cross
De La Salle Palmerston 12 Belfast Harlequins 9, Kirwan Park
Malone 29 Dublin University 27, Gibson Park
Queen’s University 26 UCD 32, Dub Lane
Thomond 10 Midleton 23, Liam Fitzgerald Park
Ballynahinch outscored Terenure College by six tries to one as they collected their second bonus point victory of the league campaign.
‘Hinch ad the wind at their backs in the opening half at Ballymacarn Park, and eased ahead with a second minute penalty from out-half Ryan Bambry.
The New Zealander provided the assist for the hosts’ opening try. Terenure’s determined defence prevented lock Chris Napier from muscling over, but then a slick back-line move ended with Bambry putting winger Jonny Cullen through for a seven-pointer.
In the 24th minute, ‘Hinch number 8 Michael Graham broke down the blindside from a five-metre scrum and made it over for a well-taken try. Bambry missed the conversion but landed a long range penalty for an 18-0 lead.
Out-half Mark O’Neill got Terenure off the mark with a penalty, six minutes before half-time. However, the County Down side added a late try for a 25-3 interval lead – Ulster’s Australian full-back Adam D’Arcy got over after some pinpoint passing.
‘Nure revived their hopes with a lovely score from scrum half Kevin O’Neill in the 50th minute. He cut through on a jinking run to register the Dubliners’ only try, which Mark O’Neill converted.
A Bambry penalty helped ‘Hinch get back on track and a tremendous fourth try, inspired by a D’Arcy-led counter attack and finished by centre Nevin Spence who galloped away along the touchline, made it 33-10.
With the bonus point in the bag, Derek Suffern’s charges added two more tries to bolster their points difference in the table. Spence collected his second try, fending off two poor tackles from a tiring ‘Nure, and D’Arcy did likewise, running a good support line to link with winger Aaron Ferris.
Ulster hooker Andi Kyriacou made his debut for Malone, helping the Belfast side to a hard-fought 29-27 victory over Dublin University.
They had it all to do after the first half at Gibson Park. Two scintillating tries from pacy winger Shane Hanratty, who could have had a third, and another from hooker Mark Murdock had the visitors leading by 20-8 at half-time.
The students tried to play a possession game in the second half, keeping it tight in the forwards, but Kyriacou and company upped their game and Malone came back into it.
Out-half Josh Pentland darted through a midfield gap to nab Malone’s second try, and a third followed from Ulster centre Mark McCrea who sniped over from close range. Pentland added the conversion to put Malone back in front (22-20).
When a Trinity attack broke down close to the Malone 22, winger John Anderson exploited the space to race away and in under the posts for the hosts’ bonus point score.
Scott LaValla closed the gap to two points with a late try for Trinity, but the conversion and a subsequent penalty were missed.
At Eaton Park, Ballymena continued their winning start to the league with a 31-3 triumph over Old Crescent. Fergal Lawlor’s lone penalty was all the Limerick side could muster, with three second half tries helping the Braidmen to their second successive bonus point.
In a game watched by former Ireland and Lions captain Willie John McBride, young centre Luke Marshall kicked 11 points and was at the heart of a number of effective back-line moves. Andrew Warwick, John Burns, Tommy Seymour and Andrew Kerr were Ballymena’s try scorers.
De La Salle Palmerston picked up their first league win when beating Belfast Harlequins 12-9 at Kirwan Park. It took a last minute converted try to decide this closely-fought affair.
Harlequins went ahead courtesy of an early penalty from full-back Richard Reaney, before DLSP number 8 Conor Power snr finished off some lovely interplay between backs and forwards for an unconverted try.
The hosts came under intense pressure but some poor decision making from ‘Quins meant the scoreline remained the same for half-time.
Two penalties from Reaney in the closing ten minutes of the second half looked to have set the visitors up for a tight victory. But ‘Salmo had other ideas, and following a concerted spell of pressure, flanker Karl Moran snatched the match-winning try.
David Thompson, a summer signing from Old Wesley, tagged on the conversion for good measure, and ‘Quins could not mount a late comeback.
Another player who recently switched clubs, Gearoid O’Grady, fired over four penalties to steer Bective Rangers to a 12-5 victory over Old Wesley in the battle of the Donnybrook-based sides.
A try from prop Tristan Goodbody saw Wesley close the gap to 9-5, but a late penalty from O’Grady was enough to get Bective over the finish line. Wesley scrum half David O’Leary was held up just short of the try-line in the final play.
Midleton condemned Thomond to their second league defeat in Saturday’s Munster derby at Liam Fitzgerald Park. The Cork outfit bounced back from losing to Ballymena last weekend, running in three tries for a 23-10 win.
Clonakilty are pointless, like Thomond, after suffering a 36-14 defeat to Corinthians at Shannonvale Cross. Flanker Aaron Conneely and front rowers Denis Buckley and Joey Merrigan were among the best performers for Corinthians, who have moved up to eighth in the table.
College rivals, Queen’s University and UCD, played out an eight-try thriller at Dub Lane, with the Belfield side striking in injury-time to seal a 32-26 victory.