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Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Old Wesley are the only unbeaten team left in Ulster Bank League Division 2A. The table toppers have a four-point lead over the chasing pack, while at the other end Skerries defeated UCC to claim their opening win of the campaign.

There were scores aplenty at Judge’s Road where City of Derry and Old Wesley played out an 80-point thriller, with the Dubliners edging it 43-37 thanks to a five-try haul.

Winger Barry McLaughlin was in fine form with the boot again, landing three conversions and four penalties and he also helped himself to a try in a 23-point personal haul.

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The crowd certainly got value for money throughout this entertaining encounter which saw Wesley recover from a sloppy start to lead 20-17 at half-time. Errors in defence continued to be ruthlessly punished and Wesley breathed a huge sigh of relief at the final whistle as they were defending perilously close to their try-line.

City of Derry remain without a win after three rounds, but picking up two bonus points against the league leaders suggests they are more than capable of moving up the table come November and December.

Adam Bratton, Peter Henderson, Stephen Ferguson and Stephen Corr all touched down for Mark Nicholl’s side. Andrew Semple tallied up 17 points via a try, three conversions and two penalties.

Tries from Darragh O’Neill and Jamie McGarry inspired Thomond to a hard-fought 18-15 win away to Banbridge.

The fifth-placed Limerick club led 13-3 after half an hour. Bann battled back to make the visitors sweat for the victory, with industrious back rower Stephen Irvine scoring his second try of the afternoon in the dying seconds.

After winning their first two games, Nenagh Ormond could only pick up a losing bonus point when going down 18-11 to Bective Rangers on Donnybrook’s 4G pitch. Winger Dan Fogarty scored all of the visitors’ points, taking a pass from his brother Mike to touch down in the second half and add to two earlier penalties.

The historic ‘Battle of the Borough’ finished in a resounding 32-6 victory for Blackrock College over Seapoint at Stradbrook – a result that has moved ‘Rock up to fourth place in the standings.

In the clubs’ maiden Ulster Bank League clash, Blackrock sealed the bonus point with a terrific chip and chase effort from flanker Luke Hickey. A final penalty from David Scott-Lennon completed the scoring.

Naas sit one spot above Blackrock after they got the better of bottom side Dungannon, winning 23-14 at their Forenaughts home.

It was Dungannon’s first ever trip to the Co. Kildare club and two players did all the scoring for the home side, as Johnny Delaney sniped through for two tries and Peter Osborne kicked the other 13 points, including three penalties.

An intercept try from Matthew Montgomery, which came late in the first half, and a Timmy Smith effort in the closing stages from a quick tap were Dungannon’s scores.

Meanwhile, Skerries ended their wait for a first league success with six points separating the home side and UCC (27-21) at the end of a lively tussle at windy Holmpatrick.

Chris Keane’s charges were missing twelve of last season’s squad for their two opening league games, but had the fit-again Joe Glennon and Thomas O’Hare back for the visit of the Cork students.

The reshuffled back-line also saw out-half David Hewitt return from his sabbatical, with player-coach Chris Keane alongside him at half-back, and Conal Keane was restored to his regular centre berth.

Second row Glennon crossed for Skerries’ first try, benefiting from a strong burst by flanker David Howard and Thomas O’Hare’s smart lay-off.

The Dubliners were 17-10 in front at the break thanks to further tries from David and Marc Hewitt. In between, UCC opened their account with a penalty from full-back Ben Nugent who also converted his own try from a powerful run through a defensive gap.

Nugent continued to chip away at Skerries’ lead, landing a penalty early in the second period, but the home side hit back when the Hewitt brothers and Conal Keane combined to send winger Kevin McGrath over for a five-pointer.

UCC, though, were in it for the long haul and they pounced on a poor clearance to put openside Dan Nolan in for an unconverted try. The students were let down by their decision-making at times, with precious possession kicked dead or turned over in contact.

Skerries took a giant step towards taking the win with a second try from McGrath eight minutes from time. He left the defence flatfooted as he stepped back on the outside to go over in the corner. Although it was Skerries’ day, Nugent ensured a losing bonus point for UCC with a last-gasp penalty.

Meanwhile, Ben Harrison’s 75th-minute try was only enough for a losing bonus point as NUIM Barnhall’s winning start to the season was brought to an end by Cashel at Parsonstown.

The Co. Tipperary club, who overcame Naas at home last week, made it back-to-back victories by taking a 20-16 verdict which puts them ninth in the table.

At Hatrick Park, Queen’s University won their second successive Ulster derby as Damon Hall’s second half try steered them to a 14-10 win over hosts Rainey Old Boys.

Conquerors of Banbridge in the previous round, the Belfast students’ pack provided a good first half platform against Rainey. Three Justin Rea penalties gave Queen’s a 9-5 interval lead.

Two unconverted tries from Peter Stewart and Gavin Martin edged Rainey in front at 10-9, but they were left to rue those missed conversions and a subsequent penalty miss.

Scrum half Conor Spence put a clever chip through for exciting outside back Hall to score and leave the Magherafelt men deflated – they also lost by four points to Seapoint (39-35) in Dublin last week.

ROUND 3 RESULTS:

Banbridge 15 Thomond 18, Rifle Park
Blackrock College 32 Seapoint 6, Stradbrook
City of Derry 37 Old Wesley 43, Judge’s Road
Naas 23 Dungannon 14, Forenaughts
NUIM Barnhall 16 Cashel 20, Parsonstown
Rainey Old Boys 10 Queen’s University 14, Hatrick Park
Skerries 27 UCC 21, Holmpatrick
Bective Rangers 18 Nenagh Ormond 11, Donnybrook