It was a good weekend for almost all of the northern clubs in Ulster Bank League Division 2B, with table toppers City of Derry, Rainey Old Boys and Dungannon registering victories.
Rainey Old Boys were left holding on for a 27-21 win over MU Barnhall at Hatrick Park. They almost allowed the Kildare men to pinch the result in the dying minutes, but a terrific try-saving tackle from burly prop Kieran Donaghy saved the day for John Andrews’ men.
Donaghy was part of a dominant Rainey front row that had Barnhall in all sorts of trouble and while their overall performance was patchy, the hosts had a match winner in centre Jody McMurray who finished with a hat-trick of tries. However, their push for a bonus point allowed Barnhall back into the game and Donaghy had to come to the rescue.
At Judge’s Road, City of Derry’s strong start to the campaign continued with a 40-17 bonus point triumph over Bective Rangers in a lively top of the table encounter.
Key to the result was Derry’s stranglehold of possession and territory in a second half that saw them score three converted tries without reply.
The opening 40 minutes were much more even with Bective centre Rob O’Beirn running in an early intercept try. Neil Burns landed three penalties for Derry as their scrum got on top, but O’Beirn nabbed a second seven-pointer despite Bective having number 8 Conor Power in the sin-bin.
Burns, who produced a man-of-the-match performance from out-half, swapped penalties with O’Beirn before Derry hit the front for half-time. Burns’ perfectly-weighted kick teed up centre David Graham for a try that Burns converted, edging the hosts into a 19-17 lead.
A second yellow card for Bective in the 43rd minute was ruthlessly punished this time by Terry McMaster’s charges. Powerful number 8 Stephen Corr passed for Burns to score a try which he converted himself, and there were 70 minutes on the clock when winger Neil Brown weaved through for a superb effort out wide.
Burns landed the touchline conversion for good measure, and the bonus point arrived six minutes from time. Corr attacked off the base of a scrum and fed scrum half Andrew Semple who managed to wriggle free of the cover and dart 35 metres to the try-line with Burns’ conversion completing the scoring.
Dungannon were rewarded in their first home match of the league run, as a 23-point haul from full-back Paul Armstrong guided them to a 28-15 success against Seapoint.
Armstrong kicked seven penalties and converted Jonny Toal’s first half try. The winger had been denied earlier by a foot in touch, but there was no stopping him on the half hour mark when he popped up to take a pass from Mark Faloon and sprint in by the posts.
Seapoint came back into contention before the interval, reducing the arrears to 16-10 with winger Conor Byrne finishing off a neat move for Ken Casey to convert. A fourth successful penalty from Armstrong gave ‘Gannon a nine-point buffer.
After a scoreless third quarter, another Armstrong place-kick was cancelled out by Seapoint’s second try. Centre Rory Conway sidestepped his way through some slack defending for a 22-15 scoreline. But the home side recovered well and two closing penalties from Armstrong settled the issue.
Greystones remain third in the table after squeezing past Armagh (17-16) at Dr. Hickey Park. Trailing 13-6 at half-time, the Co. Wicklow outfit responded with a try from former Leinster Under-19 winger Jack Keating and ever reliable out-half Barry Lynn booted two more penalties, including the match winner from in front of the posts.
On Friday at Woodleigh Park, a fiercely contested Cork derby was won by Highfield on a 24-11 scoreline. Injuries, missed kicks and a couple of yellow cards either side of half-time made for a frustrating night for Sunday’s Well.
Highfield’s Paddy O’Toole landed three first half penalties and it was his kick to the corner that was dotted by winger James Daly in the 24th minute. The ‘Well, with flanker Kevin Hodnett in the bin, were 14-6 down at the interval.
The hosts pushed further clear with a 43rd minute try from player-coach Timmy Ryan, who barged over from close range. O’Toole’s conversion put 15 points between the sides.
Despite losing another flanker in James Mulcahy to the bin, Sunday’s Well managed to hit back four minutes later. Ross O’Mahony was hauled down short following a brilliant counter attack, but a quick recycle saw prop Francis Moynihan get over for an unconverted effort.
The scores dried up over the remaining half hour, apart from a penalty from O’Toole. The ‘Well were unable to get into losing bonus point range despite enjoying passages of territorial dominance.
ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Rainey Old Boys 27 MU Barnhall 21, Hatrick Park
City of Derry 40 Bective Rangers 17, Judge’s Road
Dungannon 28 Seapoint 15, Stevenson Park
Greystones 17 Armagh 16, Dr. Hickey Park
Highfield 24 Sunday’s Well 11, Woodleigh Park (played on Friday)