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Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Leinster clubs hold the top three positions in Ulster Bank League Division 2A, with leaders Old Wesley making it seven wins out of seven and Blackrock College and NUIM Barnhall leading the chasing pack.

Namibian international JC Greyling helped himself to two tries in Old Wesley’s 33-12 bonus point victory over Cashel on Saturday afternoon.

Greyling, who represented his country in recent games against Germany and Portugal, starred at outside centre for Wesley as they racked up their seventh straight win of the league campaign.

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The hosts settled into an early 6-0 lead thanks to two Ian Cassidy penalties, while Cashel’s place-kicker Eamonn Connolly put two more difficult efforts wide at the other end.

Wesley manufactured their first try by the half hour mark, captain Alan Large breaking through to set up good field position and he was soon on hand to finish off a good spell of continuity in the visitors’ 22.

Cassidy converted before a superb solo score from the 23-year-old Greyling followed, two minutes later. He breached the Cashel defence on halfway and outpaced a number of defenders to touch down in the corner.

Now 18-0 behind, the Tipperary men came under further pressure before half-time as they had out-half Ben Swindlehurst sin-binned for a technical offence, and they had to defend a close-in lineout in the closing stages.

An early Cassidy penalty on the resumption was cancelled out by a try from Ed Leamy, brother of former Munster and Ireland back rower Denis Leamy. He made it over in the corner for Cashel’s first points.

The visitors strung together some promising phases after that, but the Wesley defence stood firm and they soon registered a third try when out-half Large broke down the blindside and passed for winger Richie Jermyn to go over in the corner. Cassidy converted for a 28-5 scoreline.

Wesley worked hard in pressing for their bonus point score and it seemed Cashel might hold out – until Greyling gobbled up a loose pass to run in a simple intercept try and complete his brace. Cashel gained some late consolation with a Swindlehurst try.

The result keeps Wesley five points clear at the summit. Blackrock College, their closest rivals, also bagged a bonus point at home when beating Thomond 34-3 at Stradbrook, scoring five tries in the process.

NUIM Barnhall edged out Naas 16-14 in a hard-fought Kildare derby at Parsonstown. A tight first half ended 9-6 in the hosts’ favour and Rob Mullen’s 68th-minute try proved to be the match-winning score for the Blue Bulls.

Away wins are much prized in any league, particularly on a wintry afternoon, and Queen’s University managed to move back into the top four courtesy of an 18-3 success at UCC.

Nenagh Ormond are just a point behind fifth-placed Queen’s after winning on the road too. They stormed their way to a 37-3 victory at Seapoint’s Kilbogget Park.

Seapoint’s unbeaten home record was smashed by a hungry Nenagh outfit, who fell behind to a fifth minute penalty. However, the visitors replied with a Dan Fogarty place-kick and a great back-line move, late in the first half, had centre Misi Salave showing a clean pair of heels to touch down in the corner.

Nenagh had a strengthening wind at their backs in the second period and while their defence continued to frustrate Seapoint, the Tipperary side’s attack made regular inroads.

A second Fogarty penalty made it 11-3 before right winger Ruaidhri O’Brien crossed for two tries in a five-minute spell, the second of which saw him brilliantly beat his man in a tight space, jinking away from halfway for a very well-taken score.

Nenagh’s first try-scoring bonus point of the season arrived on the 70-minute mark when left winger Hugh Maloney showed great strength to squeeze through the smallest of gaps and crash over. Excellent centre Mark Doyle deservedly got on the scoresheet in the final seconds, touching down to confirm the 34-point winning margin.

Skerries won 19-17 at home to Banbridge on Saturday, with Conal Keane’s dramatic late conversion, which bounced up off the crossbar and fell a few centimetres on the right side, eventually splitting the teams.

It was real hearts-in-mouths stuff for the Holmpatrick crowd as Eddie O’Mahony’s try, following 16 phases, brought the hosts level and then Keane’s conversion (captured below) – from wide right, into the breeze – went over with the aid of the woodwork.

Just four points separate five clubs at the foot of the Division 2A table. The biggest movers from the weekend were City of Derry who lifted themselves off the bottom and up to 12th place thanks to a 30-17 home win over Dungannon.

Derry finished strongly to register a bonus point in the end, with their pack teeing up closing tries for Willie McCleery and Ritchie McCarter. It had been a different story in the first half as Dungannon went 10-0 up thanks to a Peter Gilkinson try and five points from Jack Milligan’s boot.

The home side responded before the break with an Andrew Semple penalty and their opening try from David Ferguson. Semple kicked them in front with a second penalty and then converted a Stephen Corr try.

Milligan converted his own try to make it a one-point game – 18-17 – but Derry found an extra gear to seal a much-needed triumph, with centre Chris Barber sending full-back McCleery in for a try before the hour mark.

The home forwards did the donkey work for the final touchdown, grafting away before former Dungannon player McCarter found space to go over by the posts.

Four missed penalties let down Bective Rangers as they lost 16-15 away to Rainey Old Boys. Bective’s first trip to Magherafelt ended in a narrow defeat as Rainey triumphed thanks to an injury-time penalty from Mark O’Connor.

It was Rainey’s second successive league win and comes just as the club are installing match quality floodlights at their Hatrick Park home.

ROUND 7 RESULTS:

Blackrock College 34 Thomond 3, Stradbrook
NUIM Barnhall 16 Naas 14, Parsonstown
Rainey Old Boys 16 Bective Rangers 15, Hatrick Park
City of Derry 30 Dungannon 17, Judge’s Road
Old Wesley 33 Cashel 12, Donnybrook
Seapoint 3 Nenagh Ormond 37, Kilbogget Park
Skerries 19 Banbridge 17, Holmpatrick
UCC 3 Queen’s University 18, the Mardyke