Ballynahinch and UCD remain unbeaten in Ulster Bank League Division 2, with ‘Hinch’s bonus point win at Malone moving them two points clear at the summit. Elsewhere, Midleton and Bective Rangers gained ground in the top half of the table.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: DIVISION 2: Saturday, January 29
Belfast Harlequins 34 Corinthians 27, Deramore Park
De La Salle Palmerston 29 Ballymena 22, Kirwan Park
Dublin University 16 Bective Rangers 23, College Park
Malone 21 Ballynahinch 59, Gibson Park
Midleton 13 Old Crescent 6, Towns Park
Old Wesley 48 Thomond 10, Donnybrook
Queen’s University 44 Clonakilty 25, Dub Lane
UCD 27 Terenure College 13, Belfield
Ulster rivals Malone and Ballynahinch played out a terrific 12-try tussle at Gibson Park, with visitors ‘Hinch touching down nine times in the end.
Ulster Mark McCrea, who lined out at inside centre, finished off a counter attack for Malone, shortly before half-time, to reduce the arrears to 17-7.
Ballynahinch played into a slight breeze in the opening half and thrived in attack thanks to number 8 Michael Graham, who was to the forefront of a number of drives, and tricky centres James Thompson and Stuart Morrow.
Thompson linked with flanker Gary Crowe for their opening try, which Ryan Bambry converted. Winger Aaron Ferris crossed in the corner for the second, and the third followed in injury-time following a quick tap penalty.
Scrum half Harry McAleese moved the ball wide and it was fed through the hands of Jerry Cronin and Jonny Cullen before full-back Adam Craig darted through for the touchdown. New Zealander Bambry was unfortunate to miss with the conversion attempt, which struck both uprights.
‘Hinch took it up a notch after the restart, running in four successive tries to comfortably seal their fifth try-scoring bonus point in seven games.
Craig, lock James Simpson and replacement Matthew Irvine and Robin Harte crossed the whitewash during a devastating 20-minute spell. Bambry added all four conversions for a 45-7 scoreline.
McCrea took advantage of some space in midfield to nab his second try, with 15 minutes remaining. Out-half Josh Pentland converted and also added the extras to McCrea’s hat-trick score in the 75th minute.
But by that stage, ‘Hinch had registered two more tries themselves. A quick burst from prop Kyle McCall paved the way for a deserved try from Graham, who turned provider for the ninth and final try from McAleese.
Meanwhile, Belfast Harlequins climbed to fifth place in the table courtesy of a hard-fought 34-27 win over Corinthians at Deramore Park.
‘Quins, who had Ulster’s Paul Marshall at scrum half, seemed to be coasting when tries from winger Matt Holmes (2), full-back Michael Heaney and number 8 Ali Heatlie helped them take a 22-3 interval lead.
A tremendous individual try from Marshall, who broke from a scrum and beat the cover in the 44th minute, added five more points to the hosts’ tally.
But All-Ireland Cup semi-finalists Corinthians roared back into contention, taking advantage of a series of errors from ‘Quins and getting their attacking game going.
The Galway side grabbed converted tries after 53, 60 and 67 minutes, with team captain Pat Cunningham, his second row colleague Gary Ward and winger Darin Claasen the scorers. The sudden turnaround made it 27-24.
Then a penalty from out-half Shane Mullally brought Corinthians level. There were plenty of nerves for both sides at this stage, but ‘Quins managed to regain the lead for the final time when their Ulster-capped lock Neil McComb wrestled his way over on a storming run to the line.
Elsewhere, Ulster full-back Jamie Smith was amongst the try scorers as Ballymena snaffled a losing bonus point away from Kirwan Park. The Braidmen went down 29-22 to De La Salle Palmerston, who ran in four tries, including one from former Leinster Under-21 centre Ken Copeland.
Bective Rangers secured their second win of 2011 when outlasting Dublin University for a 23-16 success at College Park.
Bective out-half Gearoid O’Grady had the greatest influence on proceedings, kicking five penalties and a drop goal for an 18-point haul.
Scrum half Will Hanley scored the visitors’ only try in the second half, with the half-back pairing profiting from the graft of Bective’s powerful pack.
Trinity led 13-12 at the break, with team captain Scott LaValla involved twice in the move which led to centre Conor Colclough’s try. Winger Shane Hanratty added a second try on the stroke of half-time.
But Bective dominated possession and territory in the third quarter and although full-back James O’Donoghue kicked a penalty to close the gap to 20-16, O’Grady settled the issue with a final penalty.
UCD bounced back from their Bateman All-Ireland Cup exit to record a 27-13 victory over Dublin rivals Terenure College. The students outscored ‘Nure by three tries to one, with their in-form full-back Michael Twomey accounting for two of them.
Queen’s University showed great battling qualities to come from 20-8 down against bottom side Clonakilty, and finish out as 44-25 winners at Dub Lane.
The Belfast students rain six tries, including a brace from winger Chris Quinn. Ulster scrum half Ian Porter kicked four conversions and two penalties for a 14-point tally.
Midleton kept their promotion hopes alive with a 13-6 home win over Old Crescent. The sides were level 3-3 at half-time with out-half Fergal Lawlor giving the visitors the lead and full-back Jeff Hitchmough replying for Midleton.
Lawlor restored Crescent’s lead with his second penalty, but tries from scrum half Rob Smyth and winger David Hurley made sure of victory for the east Cork side.
At Donnybrook, Old Wesley cantered clear of Thomond in the second half of their entertaining encounter. The final scoreboard read 48-10 in favour of Eric Miller’s side, who were ending a run of three successive league defeats.
Tries from winger Barry McLaughlin and flanker John Carroll gave Wesley a 14-3 buffer to take into the second half.
The Dubliners added five more tries, through out-half Rory Stynes, McLaughlin, centre Brian Doherty and full-back Alan Large (2), to garner a much-needed bonus point.
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