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Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Blackrock College had a disappointing start to life in Division 2A last week, but they responded in impressive fashion with a 34-13 bonus point defeat of Skerries at Stradbrook on Saturday.

Jack O’Carroll, Sam Cooke, David Scott-Lennon and Sean Coughlan shared out the tries for Blackrock, whose head coach Emmet Farrell was pleased with the maiden league victory.

“It was a squad effort. We’ve plenty to work on as the season is going to be a tough one. We’re a young squad, we’re building for the future not just the seniors, but across all grades,” said Farrell.

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“The Under-20s who played senior rugby today and last week are gaining good experience, have good skills and we’ll harness that. Likewise the junior teams, they’re gelling well. Next week is a big derby game with Seapoint coming to visit.”

Scrum half O’Carroll broke to the left of a ruck and got over in the corner for the opening try, adding a difficult conversion into the breeze for good measure.

The hosts remained in the ascendancy, leading 17-3 at the break, but Skerries enjoyed a purple patch on the resumption with player-coach Chris Keane (pictured below), who played in the centre due to injuries, slicing through the middle for a converted try.

With Blackrock losing busy flanker Richie Marsh and centre Emile van Wyk to the sin-bin, they were suddenly protecting a 17-10 lead with 13 men and 25 minutes left on the clock.

Their strong-running backs manufactured a crucial try when captain David Rowan and Jan-Simon Byrne ran excellent lines to send Scott-Lennon over and he converted his own score.

Penalties were traded before Blackrock grabbed their bonus point when the forwards laid the platform for Coughlan to squeeze over and O’Carroll’s conversion put 21 points between the sides.

The Friday Night Lights clash at New Ormond Park was a low-scoring but exciting affair with Nenagh Ormond coming out on top 8-6 against Thomond.

A Dan Fogarty penalty got the Tipperary club on the scoreboard early and Thomond responded shortly afterwards with three points from Ben Sargent’s boot.

Winger Ruaidhri O’Brien was Nenagh’s try scorer with a great finish, touching down for the second week running. His score came after some well cleaned-out rucks had provided quick ball for scrum half Eoin Gardiner.

Some lovely handling saw the ball go out the back-line to Dan Fogarty, who came in from full-back and straightened beautifully to leave the space for O’Brien’s pace to take him over the line. Sargent slotted a second penalty before half-time and it was to be the final score of the match.

Despite the lack of scoring, the second half continued to be an action-packed spectacle with the large crowd totally engrossed by a memorable Munster derby.

Thomond had enough possession and opportunities to win the game, but Eamonn Chesser was held up short, Darragh O’Neill knocked on as he went over the try-line and the Limerick side also missed a penalty in injury-time.

Old Wesley hit the half-century mark as they thumped a disappointing Dungannon team 50-8 on the new 4G pitch at Donnybrook (pictured below).

Goal-kicking winger Barry McLaughlin finished with 20 points – a try, six conversions and a penalty – with Stephen Boyle and Johann Greyling bagging two tries each and Darren Horan and Rory Stynes also touching down.

Full-back Stynes scored the pick of the tries late on as Wesley, who have vaulted above NUIM Barnhall at the top of the table, cut loose having led 15-3 at the break.

With less than five minutes left, a deft dummy pass by Stynes totally confused the defence as he crossed for try number seven.

UCC put last week’s heavy defeat to Naas behind them with a 24-16 bonus point victory over Bective Rangers at the Mardyke. The students’ tries were scored by Cillian Ansbro (2) and Edward Earle in addition to a penalty try.

Cashel won their first home fixture of the new league campaign by overcoming Naas 20-15 in a very physical encounter at Spafield.

The Tipperary outfit edged the first half 13-10, winger Darragh O’Brien waltzing in for the opening try after Ed Leamy had done well to link with Zachary Stryffeler who supplied the scoring pass.

O’Brien converted and landed a penalty before Naas’ Peter Osborne replied with a three-pointer in the 30th minute.

After O’Brien swung over his second successful penalty, the visitors – buoyed by their first round win over UCC – hit back with a well-taken try sparked by a brilliant Osborne break and finished in the corner by winger Ben O’Connor.

With their lead cut to 13-10 by half-time, Cashel needed to respond and they did so in the 52nd minute while Naas centre Henry Bryce was in the sin-bin. They kicked a penalty to the corner and hooker Niall Fitzgerald touched down from an excellent maul.

O’Brien’s accurate conversion took the home side 10 points clear. Naas though were far from finished and with 15 minutes left, they set up a close-in lineout from a penalty and a neat move put Charles Kings over for an unconverted effort.

But Cashel’s five-point lead was enough in the end as Brian Silke and Cedric Unholtz combined to prevent a certain try for Naas, who were denied again when winger Jeff Delaney’s effort was disallowed for a forward pass.

Elsewhere, round 1 leaders NUIM Barnhall showed their battling qualities by coming from behind on four occasions to beat City of Derry 29-22 at Judge’s Road. A converted Ben Harrison try and Simon Gillespie’s fourth penalty of the day proved to be the final scores of an entertaining tie.

There were maiden victories for Queen’s University and Seapoint who made home advantage count against Banbridge and Rainey Old Boys respectively.

Damon Hall registered the bonus point try for Queen’s in their 29-23 triumph over Banbridge at Dub Lane, following up a superb break and chip through by Ulster prospect Sean O’Hagan. Full-back Hall and scrum half Conor Spence scored two tries apiece.

Stephen Verso’s brace of tries and a man-of-the-match performance from out-half James Kelly were the highlights of Seapoint’s 39-35 bonus point success at home to Rainey. A try in the final play by late inclusion Matthew McClelland gave injury-hit Rainey two bonus points.

ROUND 2 RESULTS:

Blackrock College 34 Skerries 13, Stradbrook
Cashel 20 Naas 15, Spafield
City of Derry 22 NUIM Barnhall 29, Judge’s Road
Old Wesley 50 Dungannon 8, Donnybrook
Queen’s University 29 Banbridge 23, Dub Lane
Seapoint 39 Rainey Old Boys 35, Kilbogget Park
UCC 24 Bective Rangers 16, the Mardyke
Nenagh Ormond 8 Thomond 6, New Ormond Park (played on Friday)