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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

While unbeaten Highfield continue to grab the headlines at the top of Division 2B, fellow Cork club Sunday’s Well are quietly going about their business having completed a four-match winning run without conceding a try.

The winter period has been very good to Sunday’s Well so far, with Saturday’s 18-15 home win over Boyne moving them up to seventh in the table – and just two points away from the top four.

Bottom side Boyne came at them hard and made it a difficult afternoon for the hosts at Irish Independent Park, playing an expansive game with some strong runners and a solid set piece structure.

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However, it takes a lot to break down the ‘Well defence at the moment and the visitors were denied by a series of last-ditch tackles and crucial turnovers.

Shane O’Riordan kicked the Corkmen in front after nine minutes and added a second penalty before Boyne out-half Tyler Lansdowne responded off the kicking tee.

Things began to unravel for Boyne when they had their number 8 Caimin Hall sin-binned for persistent infringements. His opposite number James Mulcahy (pictured below) touched down from the resulting scrum which saw Sunday’s Well shunt the visitors backwards. O’Riordan converted.

Boyne stayed in contention with two penalties from Lansdowne either side of half-time, but captain Mulcahy had a big influence at the breakdown and the Meath men often had their possession slowed down or turned over.

Their decision-making also let them down at times, an ill-advised counter from deep almost leading to a second ‘Well try for Sam Holt. Mulcahy stole the resulting Boyne lineout, though, and the pack set up a powerful maul that had John Moynihan crashing over for an unconverted effort.

But, again Boyne showed their battling qualities and a huge amount of character. Two well-struck penalties from Lansdowne reduced the deficit to 18-15. The ‘Well’s hopes of further tries were dashed and they needed a late turnover from prop Chris O’Regan to ultimately get over the finish line.

Meanwhile, Highfield proved too strong for Wanderers at Merrion Road, using a big wind advantage to establish an early lead as they ran out convincing 36-13 bonus point winners.

Tim Ryan’s charges built a 19-3 advantage and Wanderers, who now lie tenth in the table, never really got back in touch. The Dubliners’ best spell saw hooker Adam Duhig bulldoze over for a converted try to bring it back to 26-13.

But there was no stopping the league leaders who tallied up five tries over the course of the 80 minutes, including a well-taken brace from winger Ben Murphy and single efforts from Dave Kelly, Dave O’Hea and Miah Cronin.

Highfield have now scored 283 points and six try-scoring bonus points in an eight-match unbeaten run. Tullamore, in second place, remain hot on their heels and are just five points worse off despite losing two games to date.

Tullamore have supplemented their six victories so far with six try-scoring bonus points and one losing one. Their latest outing saw them beat Navan 26-7 in a well-contested Friday Night Lights clash at Spollanstown, with the tries shared out by Darragh Lowry, Tom Gilligan, Ivor Scully and Brian Geraghty.

Also on Friday night, Old Crescent climbed to ninth spot on the back of a 7-0 away victory over local rivals Richmond.

It was Richmond’s first chance to host an Ulster Bank League game under their new floodlights, but Crescent spoiled the party by scoring the one and only try of this fiercely-contested Limerick derby.

Gareth Quinn McDonogh intercepted a pass outside of his 22 and raced away before offloading for the supporting Larry Hanly to run in the crucial seven-pointer in the first half.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon and the Cork derby spoils were within Kanturk’s grasp when winger Kealan Buckley, the club’s first team Player of the Year, scored a try from a Paul O’Keeffe kick through to move them into a 16-8 lead over hosts Midleton.

The Towns Park crowd ended up in raptures, though, as Midleton bossed the concluding minutes as Paul Daly kicked a penalty and converted Aidan McCarthy’s decisive try to give them a two-point winning margin.

Armagh will take in the Christmas break in third place after cruising to a 40-11 win over lowly Ards at Hamilton Park. Tempers flared as both teams have a player red carded and this was a closer game that the final scoreline suggests.

Meanwhile, New Zealander Kurt Strachan was in match-winning form for Greystones as his last-gasp drop goal secured a nail-biting 20-18 success away to local rivals De La Salle Palmerston.

ROUND 8 RESULTS:

Midleton 18 Kanturk 16, Towns Park
Sunday’s Well 18 Boyne 15, Irish Independent Park
Wanderers 13 Highfield 36, Merrion Road
Ards 11 Armagh 40, Hamilton Park
De La Salle Palmerston 18 Greystones 20, Kirwan Park
Richmond 0 Old Crescent 7, Richmond Park
Tullamore 26 Navan 7, Spollanstown