The break in Ulster Bank League action did little to halt Old Wesley’s surge for promotion from Division 2A, with the Dubliners winning 24-7 away to Rainey Old Boys to remain at the top of the table.
Old Wesley led from start to finish in Magherafelt, Mark Rowley making headway in midfield before passing for fellow back rower Darren Horan to finish off the game’s first try. Backed by a strong breeze, Barry McLaughlin added two penalties in the opening quarter.
Two further three-pointers from McLaughlin’s boot, either side of a miss from halfway, left Rainey Old Boys 17-0 down at the break.
After an early Rainey penalty miss, Wesley opened the second half scoring with a try for Rowley from clean lineout ball. McLaughlin converted from in front of the posts.
In cold and windy conditions, Rainey capitalised on the sin-binning of Wesley’s Richie Morrow as Bangor native Andrew Shaw – on as a replacement – dived over for his try for the Co. Derry club.
There were no further scores as neither side looked like securing a bonus point. The result keeps Old Wesley, who are coached by Morgan Lennon and Willie Clancy, three points clear at the summit.
Meanwhile, Dungannon claimed a crucial first win of the league campaign as they defeated Seapoint 35-6 at Stevenson Park to move off the bottom of the table.
Number 8 James McMahon starred with a second half hat-trick of tries, crossing in the 50th, 58th and 73rd minutes to add to earlier effort from Mark Faloon. Out-half Jack Milligan landed three conversions and three penalties for a 15-point haul.
Skerries were also in free-scoring form, hitting Naas for 41 points without reply as they dominated the sides’ encounter at Forenaughts.
Having lost in the opening two rounds, the Dubliners have responded in excellent fashion with back-to-back bonus point victories seeing them rise to seventh overall. Their latest success saw the Keanes, Conal and player-coach Chris, dictate matters from half-back.
The wet and windy conditions in Naas were to Skerries’ liking as they powered into a 34-0 half-time lead. A hat-trick of tries from number 8 Ross McAuley was the product of the visitors’ strong scrum and lineout platform.
Prop Wayne Aquila also touched down while returning winger Derek Keane bagged a brace – scoring in each half – as Chris Keane’s charges tallied up six tries by the final whistle.
Replacement Mike Slattery scored a late levelling try from a lineout maul as Nenagh Ormond drew 13-all with UCC at rain-soaked New Ormond Park.
This was the Cork students’ first game since last week’s departure of their director of rugby Gary Byrne ‘by mutual consent’, after 12 rewarding years at the club.
UCC scored two penalties either side of half-time and although Dan Fogarty replied with the boot for Nenagh, the visitors went 13-3 up after converting an overlap from a blocked box kick.
The Tipperary men did not panic, though, answering back with a penalty before 14-man UCC conceded a series of penalties and a close-in lineout led to Slattery being driven over.
Banbridge have moved up to ninth place after drawing 3-all with Blackrock College at Rifle Park, while Thomond and Queen’s University lie third and fourth respectively after their latest wins.
Thomond continued their encouraging start to the new season with a 33-6 bonus point victory at home to City of Derry, who leaked 19 unanswered points in the second half.
The Limerick side led 14-6 at half-time, sandwiching two Peter Henderson penalties with tries from Kevin O’Mahony and Dean O’Brien – the latter touching down from Eamon Chesser’s reverse pass.
The tough weather conditions saw the error count increase for both sides, but Thomond came alive in the final quarter of an hour to run in three more tries.
Darragh Payne’s lineout steal paved the way for a Colin Liston score, before Jamie McGarry sidestepped past two covering defenders, having collected a Rory Collins cross-field kick, to notch the bonus point try. Collins then converted his own try late on.
Ulster Ravens ace Jacob Stockdale scored the try which sealed a 23-12 triumph for Queen’s University as they got the better of a determined Cashel team at Dub Lane.
Stockdale struck with four minutes left as the Belfast students stopped Cashel’s comeback bid. The visitors, with the wind behind them in the second half, had recovered from a 13-0 interval deficit.
Praising Stockdale’s impact, Queen’s head coach Bob Young told the Newsletter: “Jacob is one for the future and it is great that he is available for us. We started him on the wing them moved him into 13, which is probably his best position.
“It’s good to see him get his hands on the ball and do something like that to take the pressure off at the end, especially in conditions like that when he didn’t see much of the ball but when he did he showed his class.”
Conor Shiels and John Atkinson scored the other tries for Queen’s, while their Tipperary opponents, who gained good yardage through rolling mauls, suffered from three yellow cards.
Queen’s trip down to Donnybrook next Saturday should be a cracker as they look to provide table toppers Old Wesley with their stiffest test of the season so far.
NUIM Barnhall came away from Donnybrook’s 4G pitch last weekend with a valuable try-scoring bonus point after overcoming Bective Rangers on a 20-3 scoreline.
The Blue Bulls were clinical in taking the few scoring chances that came their way. They established a 5-3 lead for half-time as centre Fionn Higgins intercepted a long pass out wide and showed a clean pair of heels to the chasers to score an unconverted try.
New winger Sean Lacy cut inside the Bective defence to finish off try number 2, and the third touchdown followed in the 65th minute when winger Michael Mellett impressively evaded three tacklers on a strong burst to the line.
Mellett produced the goods again late on, another piece of individual brilliance seeing him outfox the Bective defence to seal a five-point return for his second-placed side.
ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Banbridge 3 Blackrock College 3, Rifle Park
Bective Rangers 3 NUIM Barnhall 20, Donnybrook
Dungannon 35 Seapoint 6, Stevenson Park
Naas 0 Skerries 41, Forenaughts
Nenagh Ormond 13 UCC 13, New Ormond Park
Queen’s University 23 Cashel 12, Dub Lane
Rainey Old Boys 7 Old Wesley 24, Hatrick Park
Thomond 33 City of Derry 6, Liam Fitzgerald Park