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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Centre Callum Patterson made it three tries in two Division 1B games as his brace helped Ballymena see off Dolphin’s challenge 37-10 at Irish Independent Park this afternoon.

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Leading 10-3 early in the second half, Dolphin were left stunned as Ballymena went up through the gears to register 34 unanswered points. The Dolphin pack had forced a penalty try before the break with Cian McGovern kicking their other points.

But Ritchie McMaster and new scrum half John Creighton pulled the strings at half-back as Ballymena went on to dominate. Their five tries were shared out by backs Jordan Foster, Rodger McBurney, Glen Baillie and Callum Patterson (2). Notably, former Ulster and Ireland prop Bryan Young started at hooker for the visitors, with Ulster U-20 captain Adam McBurney and James Taggart both unavailable.

The concession of two late Mark Best tries could not take the gloss off a galvanising 20-18 victory for UL Bohemians away to Belfast Harlequins.

It was Bohs’ first league success under new head coach Gearoid Prendergast who had watched his troops slump 33-5 to Old Wesley in the opening round. But the Limerick outfit were much improved at Deramore Park where they built an early 10-0 lead.

A third minute try from Ireland Sevens squad member Cian Aherne boosted their confidence with full-back Rick McKenna converting. McKenna, who finished with 10 points, also added the extras to hooker Kevin O’Byrne’s 60th-minute score before ‘Quins hit back for a bonus point.

In a brilliant advertisement for Division 1B rugby, Old Wesley staged a remarkable second half comeback to beat Buccaneers 42-38 at Donnybrook. The sides finished with five tries each, with Barry McLaughlin’s place-kicking haul of 17 points proving the difference in the end for Wesley.

The Dubliners’ defence was all at sea as Buccs turned around with a 35-17 advantage, their run of tries including a cross-field kick effort and an intercept. Winger Rory O’Connor bagged a brace to take his league tally to three.

Familiar with the artificial surface from his Lansdowne days, out-half Conor McKeon was key to a number of the Pirates’ best moves and kicked five conversions. However, his drop goal was Buccs’ only second half score as Wesley seized control, with tries from Rory Stynes, Billy Ngawini and James Burton, allied to McLaughlin’s accuracy off the tee, inspiring them to a thrilling win.

Blackrock College continued their excellent start to life in Division 1B with a second win on the bounce away to Shannon (21-16) at Coonagh.

‘Rock did most of the damage in the first half, building a 14-8 lead thanks to tries from elusive backs Hugo Harbinson and Sean Coughlan. Young lock Frank Bradshaw-Ryan’s brilliant break played in full-back Ronan McKenna for a late Shannon response.

A close-in lineout saw the visiting forwards maul their way over with second row Cillian Duff touching down and Jack O’Carroll notching his third conversion. That put the game beyond Shannon’s reach, although they did pick up a bonus point courtesy of a Sean McCarthy try and a 76th minute penalty from Shane Airey, the ex-UL Bohs out-half.