Connacht Academy member Jack Dinneen struck for a late bonus point try as Galwegians beat hosts Malone 31-5 to move two points clear at the top of Ulster Bank League Division 1B.
Galwegians showed their class in the final quarter at Gibson Park, running in three tries without reply to claim an unlikely bonus point. Lock Marty Cummins scored from John Cleary’s offload to give the league leaders the momentum again at 21-5.
Excellent centre Rory Parata broke through for the visitors’ third try of the afternoon and Jack Dinneen, on as a replacement in the front row, claimed the bonus point by going over in the corner.
With Malone still fighting off relegation and the Galway men in pole position for promotion, it was no surprise that the first half was a tense affair. The blustery conditions were difficult to deal with at times, but two Aidan Moynihan penalties had ‘Wegians 6-0 ahead at the turnaround.
Malone knocked on as they went for the try-line early in the second period and while Cleary showed them how it was done at the other end, Neil Burns responded immediately for the Cregagh Red Sox for a 13-5 scoreline.
However, ‘Wegians got the upper hand as another Moynihan penalty was followed by that hat-trick of tries as Matt Brown’s men picked up their eighth try-scoring bonus point of the season.
At Eaton Park, second-placed Garryowen knocked Ballymena out of contention for promotion by taking a 17-5 verdict. The Braidmen are fourth but are now 11 points behind Garryowen with two rounds remaining.
In wet and windy conditions, Ballymena failed to take full advantage of a couple of early scrum penalties and it was Garryowen out-half Jamie Gavin who opened the scoring with a penalty into the stiff breeze.
Conan Doyle’s Light Blues used their lineout platform to set up winger James McInerney for the first half’s only try. Captain Dave Sherry carried strongly and Steve McMahon took it on out wide before fellow winger McInerney finished off in the corner.
Three second half penalties from man-of-the-match Gavin stretched the visitors’ lead to 17-0 before Ballymena salvaged some pride with a late unconverted effort from centre Callum Patterson.
Garryowen are still scrapping with ‘Wegians for automatic promotion. A second place finish would see them face St. Mary’s College in a promotion/relegation play-off.
Dublin University kept up their push for promotion with a runaway 48-14 victory over a disappointing Buccaneers side at Dubarry Park. The warmer temperatures and harder surfaces are certainly to the third-placed students’ liking, as they tallied up 36 points alone in the second half.
Their seven-try rout included braces from flanker Brian du Toit and USA international winger Tim Maupin, and Trinity will hope for more of the same away to Corinthians in the next round. Tony Smeeth’s youngsters remain five points behind Garryowen and seven behind Galwegians.
It is do-or-die territory for bottom side Corinthians after they suffered their twelfth defeat of the league campaign, going down 27-17 to Belfast Harlequins who are now safe in sixth place.
Talismanic Corinthians captain James Buckley scored a try in each half, helping his team take a 10-3 interval lead at Deramore Park, but ‘Quins proved too strong with centre Mark Best and Fijian-born full-back Junior Bulumakau (2) both touching down.
On Friday night, winger Richie Mullane scored Shannon’s bonus point try 18 minutes from the end to round off a splendid 26-14 derby win over third-from-bottom UL Bohemians at Thomond Park. Shannon are nine points clear of the drop zone with two games left.