There were more away wins than home successes in Division 2A of the Ulster Bank League last weekend, with Blackrock College, Banbridge, Naas and Skerries all winning on the road.
A dose of home comfort did the trick for Queen’s University as they ran out 38-16 bonus point winners over Bective Rangers at Dub Lane, outscoring the visitors by six tries to one.
Chasing their third victory on the trot, the students opened with two tries inside the opening 15 minutes. Stuart McIlwaine, Ali Wright and Marc Campbell (pictured below) were all involved in the build-up to winger Eoin Devlin’s third-minute opener in the corner.
Bective came under further pressure after prop Emmet Ferron was sin-binned for a high tackle. Queen’s moved the ball at pace again and it was prop Luke Steele who forced his way through a gap to score from 20 metres out.
Full-back Justin Rea’s conversion was cancelled out by a Gearoid O’Grady penalty, however Queen’s made it 19-3 for half-time when the fleet-footed Damon Hall beat the Bective cover to race on to McIlwaine’s kick through and he hacked on to grab a well-taken five-pointer.
Bective were unable to fully punish Queen’s while flanker Stuart Hooks was in the sin-bin, although two more penalties from O’Grady did close the gap to 19-9.
However, the Belfast youngsters’ superior firepower was obvious at times. They sealed their bonus point with 25 minutes remaining, Peter Storey succeeding in ripping the ball from Corry McCarthy’s grasp to run in unopposed.
The Dubliners leaked two more tries just as they attempted to hit back. A loose pass on halfway was intercepted by Wright who broke clear to score by the posts for Rea to convert. He also added the extras to Hall’s second touchdown, another ‘soft’ score which saw the winger gobble up a reverse pass from Bective’s Mark Joyce.
Although well beaten in the end, the visitors had the final say when full-back Rob O’Beirne got over in the corner and O’Grady converted in impressive fashion to complete his 11-point haul.
Their sixth win of the campaign has Queen’s nicely positioned in third place, three points behind Blackrock College who picked up four hard-earned points at Judge’s Road with a 27-23 defeat of City of Derry.
Leaders Old Wesley ended this block of league games with a perfect eight from eight record, finishing 25-15 clear of a competitive Thomond side at Donnybrook.
Saturday’s result saw the current Wesley squad set a new club record, beating the seven straight wins achieved by their 1990/91 counterparts before Wesley were promoted to Division 1.
It was all Thomond early on, but they were just held up past the try-line and Wesley gradually got to grips with matters. An initial break from Ian Cassidy, near halfway, set the wheels in motion for centre Steven Harvey to score from an Alan Large pass.
Had Wesley flanker Darren Horan been able to keep his footing after intercepting a pass, try number two certainly looked on the cards. That score came shortly afterwards when winger Richie Jermyn chased down his own kick for a neatly-taken solo effort out wide.
Following a missed penalty by Thomond’s Dean O’Brien, the visitors had Wayne Mullaney sin-binned and scrum half Cassidy mopped up with the three points for Wesley.
Worse followed for the Limerick men when they leaked a third try on the stroke of half-time. A loose ball was seized upon by lock Iain McGann and he fed full-back Rory Stynes who produced a trademark jinking run to claim another unconverted score and make it 18-0.
Thomond were much improved during the second half’s early exchanges and with Wesley caught for numbers in defence, O’Brien crossed for an encouraging 50th minute try that went unconverted.
However, Thomond then lost the services of hooker Eugene Payne for ten minutes and Wesley swept through for their bonus point score on the hour mark, Jermyn finishing off after a blindside break from Cassidy who converted for 25-5.
Two quick-fire unconverted tries from Tom Burke and Dara O’Neill saw Thomond mount a spirited comeback, but Wesley were not going to allow them get any closer and they finished the game on the attack in opposition territory.
Meanwhile, Skerries are back up in the top four following a fifth triumph in their last six league outings. They got the better of Seapoint this time, winning 28-8 at Kilbogget Park with a bonus point to boot.
Bottom side Seapoint were in desperate need of a positive result. They were leading 8-7 after 38 minutes, but Skerries responded in clinical fashion with tries from Kevin McGrath, Chris Tonge and Ross McAuley. Their earlier converted score came from Eddie O’Mahony.
Naas won for the first time since early October when overcoming Nenagh Ormond 17-10 down in Tipperary. It was a big result for the Kildare club following four successive defeats.
Nenagh scored a last-gasp seven-pointer to earn a losing bonus point, but Naas, who are in tenth spot now, were full value for their victory with Henry Bryce taking a terrific line for the opening try in the 16th minute.
The visitors were leading 7-3 when Johnny Delaney tore through the middle of the Nenagh defence to touch down by the posts in the 50th minute. Peter Osborne converted and then gleaned three points from a scrum penalty in the 65th minute and the 17-point tally proved to be enough for Dan van Zyl’s charges.
Banbridge bounced back from their heartbreaking late loss at Skerries in some style, running in five second half tries as they blitzed Dungannon 57-10 in a one-sided Ulster derby at Stevenson Park.
Rainey Old Boys were left to rue two late yellow cards as Cashel emerged with a hard-fought 23-10 win at Spafield. The Tipperary club gained their first try-scoring bonus point of the season to move up to seventh overall.
ROUND 8 RESULTS:
Cashel 23 Rainey Old Boys 10, Spafield
City of Derry 23 Blackrock College 27, Judge’s Road
Dungannon 10 Banbridge 57, Stevenson Park
Nenagh Ormond 10 Naas 17, New Ormond Park
Old Wesley 25 Thomond 15, Donnybrook
Queen’s University 38 Bective Rangers 16, Dub Lane
Seapoint 8 Skerries 28, Kilbogget Park