Galwegians – the only team to gain a try-scoring bonus point in the opening round – are the early pacesetters in Division 1B of the Ulster Bank League.
All four of Galwegians’ tries in a 25-17 triumph over Dublin University were scored by backs as wingers Jerome Harimate and Matt Dever were joined on the scoresheet by centre Gary O’Brien and scrum half Caolin Blade.
Two tries inside the first 12 minutes at Crowley Park got last year’s Division 2A champions up and running under new head coach Matt Brown, who is assisted by Connacht captain John Muldoon.
Trinity captain Paddy Lavelle showed the way for his side with a try to claw it back to 13-7 but another converted effort put ‘Wegians 13 points ahead at half-time.
The sides swapped unconverted tries in the third quarter and Trinity almost nicked a bonus point right at the death – Lavelle’s centre partner Conor Kearns touched down in injury-time but the conversion kick was missed.
Kalani Moore came off the bench to score a late match-winning try for UL Bohemians as they got the better of Belfast Harlequins – 22-19 – on Thomond Park’s back pitch.
This league opener looked to be all over entering the last 15 minutes as Adam Larkin’s ‘Quins outfit held a 19-10 buffer. But a pushover try, credited to Moore, was converted by Shane Airey in a dramatic finish.
Airey, the UL out-half, cancelled out an early penalty from Mark Best before the visitors retook the lead thanks to a converted try from flanker Frankie Taggart, who was a member of last season’s Ireland Under-20 team.
Somewhat against the run of play, Bohs got back on terms with a seven-pointer from their captain Ed Kelly, but Harlequins led 13-10 at the break thanks to an Eamon Lane penalty.
The goal-kicking centre punished indiscretions by the home side with two more penalties and suddenly Bohs were nine points adrift.
The Limerick men staged a late rally though with openside Ian Condell’s try cutting the deficit to four points. The entire UL pack then drove over the line for Moore to edge them in front and Airey’s superb conversion from the touchline added a final gloss.
Meanwhile, Andy Graham’s Ballymena were too strong for visitors Corinthians as they ran out comfortable 20-0 winners at Eaton Park.
Graham is hoping his side can build some ‘early form and momentum’ in the league and they look very capable of doing that with their new half-back pairing of Ritchie McMaster and David Shanahan impressing.
The 21-year-old scrum half Shanahan, who played twice for Ulster in the PRO12 last season, crossed for two tries and McMaster, formerly of City of Derry and Queen’s, kicked a conversion and penalty.
Connor Smyth, Mike McComish and John Andrew caught the eye in an industrious Ballymena pack who produced the game’s other try scored by loosehead prop Adrian Kirkpatrick.
Corinthians, who trailed 12-0 at half-time, had Connacht’s Ronan Loughney, Miah Nikora and Eoghan Masterson in their team but they could do little to inspire the disappointing westerners.
Aided by a powerful display from their forwards, Malone lie fourth in the table after seeing off the challenge of Buccaneers on a 29-11 scoreline at Gibson Park.
Full-back Andy Bryans raced on to Josh Bingham’s well-weighted chip in behind the Buccs’ defence to score the opening try in the 15th minute.
Winger Rory O’Connor, who had threatened early on, responded for Buccaneers in the 28th minute when he beat two defenders to go over in the corner.
But Malone got back on track to lead 13-8 at the turnaround thanks to Bryans’ second try of the day and a penalty from centre Josh Pentland.
Pentland went on to kick 14 points in all with the Belfast club dominating the final half hour of the game. They signed off with a third try in the final seconds, with winger Michael Barker benefiting from John Creighton’s quick tap penalty.