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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Dublin University came through a big test of their promotion credentials when they battled past Ballymena 18-16 to leapfrog the Braidmen into third place in the Division 1B table.



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Trinity extended their excellent unbeaten run to nine matches with a try in each half from forwards Tom Collis and Brian du Toit, and full-back Conor Kearns kicked the rest of the points.

Ballymena had put it up to the students, building a 13-8 interval lead thanks to Sean Taylor’s sixth try of the campaign and eight points from the boot of in-form out-half Ritchie McMaster.

However, the ‘College Park factor’ proved decisive for Trinity during the closing 40 minutes as they scored at crucial stages and showed plenty of mettle to see out a tight result.

Leaders Galwegians, who were well beaten at College Park recently, got back on track with an 18-15 victory over UL Bohemians at Thomond Park.

Young replacement Conor Lowndes landed a penalty six minutes from the end to keep ‘Wegians top of the table – they are just a single point ahead of second-placed Garryowen (42 points) with Trinity and Ballymena both on 39 points.

Bohs took a 12-10 lead into the break courtesy of tries from man-of-the-match Jack O’Donoghue, who raced over from the 22 after 15 minutes, and Darren Moroney, who rounded off a good passing move on the half hour mark. Shane Airey converted the first one.

A free-flowing back-line move teed up right winger Jerome Harimate for Galwegians’ first half try. John Cleary converted to add to his initial third-minute penalty.

Tighthead prop Doron McHugh got on the scoresheet with an unconverted effort for the visitors and while Robbie Bourke’s penalty got Bohs back on terms at 15-all, Connacht Under-20 talent Lowndes held his nerve to convert the match-winning kick.

The much-anticipated Ulster derby between Belfast Harlequins and Malone ended up a one-sided affair as ‘Quins steamrolled their way to a 32-12 win at Deramore Park.

Adam Larkin’s men made it two wins in three games to boost their hopes of avoiding relegation. They also garnered their first try-scoring bonus point of the season thanks to efforts from props Mark McGrath and Charlie Sargaison, Ulster lock Neil McComb and lively backs Mark Glover (pictured below) and Rory Scholes.

McComb’s try secured the bonus point before half-time. Malone had a mountain to climb at 24-7 down and although ‘Quins openside Ollie Loughead was sin-binned, the tries kept coming for the hosts with Scholes going over.

A second successful penalty from Ulster scrum half Michael Heaney completed the scoring for Larkin’s charges who have climb to seventh in the standings – level on 20 points with sixth-placed Malone and Shannon in eighth.

The Limerick club were well-beaten by Buccaneers at Dubarry Park where the Pirates picked up a bonus point in a 25-7 success.

Shane Mullally’s 76th-minute try was Shannon’s only score in Athlone as Buccs led from start to finish, running in tries through back rowers Stephen McVeigh and Mata Fifita, winger Billy Henshaw and Connacht-capped full-back Shane Layden.

Meanwhile, Garryowen made it nine victories in 12 league outings with a comprehensive 39-10 triumph over Corinthians in Galway. Fit-again centre Joey Purcell got over for the first of the visitors’ six tries, collecting the final pass from Munster’s Shane Buckley.

As the hail came down on a cold and blustery day out west, the Light Blues moved 15-0 clear for half-time when outside centre Andrew O’Byrne touched down.

Corinthians, who had Connacht’s Niyi Adeolokun making his return from injury, hit back with a converted try from centre Dwayne Corcoran. They were denied a second one due to a knock-on near the Garryowen line, but a Conor Murphy penalty reduced the arrears to 15-10 after Buckley was yellow carded.

Garryowen scrum half Jamie Glynn showed his versatility by replacing Joey Purcell in the centre. He took centre stage when blocking a kick, hacking through and scoring in the corner to steady Conan Doyle’s men at 20-10.

The Light Blues decisively widened the margin with a John Mark Griffin close range score and try number five followed when flanker Buckley burst out of his own half to run in a fine individual effort. Corinthians conceded again late on when Garryowen hooker Ed Rossiter made it over.