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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

First defeats of the season for Rainey Old Boys and Greystones have allowed in-form City of Derry to push five points clear at the top of Ulster Bank League Division 2B.

Greystones came a cropper at Stevenson Park as resurgent Dungannon celebrated their second home win on the trot, taking a 23-17 verdict with full-back Paul Armstrong kicking them over the finish line.

After an early penalty miss from the visitors, ‘Gannon built enough pressure to force a 13th minute try. Jake Finlay’s long pass released Darren Simpson down the right wing, before a well-weighted chip ahead was dotted down by the onrushing James McMahon.

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Backs Seamus Mallon and Armstrong dictated play for the home side and although some indiscipline robbed them of try-scoring opportunities, the Tyrone men moved 11-0 ahead for half-time courtesy of a brace of penalties from Armstrong.

Armstrong’s third successful penalty in the 52nd minute was cancelled out by a well-taken intercept try from Greystones out-half Killian Marmion for a 14-7 scoreline. Another accurate strike from Armstrong had the gap out to 10 points again.

Referee Cillian Hogan then became particularly busy around the hour mark, sin-binning two Dungannon players and also one of the Greystones locks. The Co. Wicklow outfit seized the initiative and flanker Bobby Clancy was driven over for a converted try.

It took two more penalties from Armstrong after 75 and 78 minutes to finally seal the result for Andrew Hughes’ side, but with Steven Sinnamon’s second yellow card reducing Dungannon to 14 men, ‘Stones took home what could prove to be a valuable bonus point thanks to a last-gasp Marmion penalty.

Leaders City of Derry ran in three tries in a devastating 15-minute second half spell to defeat Sunday’s Well 23-18 at Irish Independent Park.

A strong showing from the ‘Well forwards had them right in the hunt, leading 9-6 at half-time with full-back Eoin Geary landing three penalties to two from Derry out-half Neil Burns.

With defences on top, the Cork side managed to keep the visiting back-line relatively quiet until the closing half an hour. The scrum battle was also a fascinating contest with the three Moynihan brothers featuring in the ‘Well front row against Derry’s Chris Shields, Sam Duffy and David Ferguson.

Geary rewarded his industrious forwards with a fourth successful penalty, but the introduction of Richard McCarter at out-half really turned the game in Derry’s favour as his crisp distribution opened up gaps for his team-mates.

Strong running from Ali Beckett and David Funston, another prominent replacement, preceded the visitors’ opening try. Quick ruck ball was fed to McCarter and his deft inside pass put full-back and man-of-the-match Beckett over for an unconverted score.

Funston kept the tempo high with another powerful break and the ‘Well defence struggled to hold on with two players sin-binned in quick succession, one for a deliberate knock-on. McCarter set Beckett free into the 22 and centre David Graham was up in support to take the final pass and make it 16-12 to Terry McMaster’s charges.

Try as they might, 13-man Sunday’s Well lacked the firepower to create similar try-scoring opportunities at the other end and the absence of Cyprien Jouve from their back-line was keenly felt – he had to play the whole match in the back row.

A Geary penalty from 40 metres out was quickly erased by a third Derry touchdown. This time, Derry put the home scrum under pressure, Craig Huey hoovered up the loose ball and with Funston causing damage again by going the direct route, Beckett was fed for a straightforward finish by the posts from five metres out.

Andrew Semple converted to extend Derry’s advantage to 23-15, but the ‘Well hit back to claim a deserved losing bonus point late on. Geary booted his sixth penalty of the afternoon with McCarter in the bin.

There is a cracking Ulster derby in prospect at Judge’s Road next Saturday where Derry will host an Armagh side smarting from a 29-15 loss to Highfield. Talented out-half Paddy O’Toole finished with 19 points for the Cork outfit, kicking five penalties and converting tries from James Daly and Marc Murphy.

Bective Rangers picked up their second home win of the campaign, coming from 15-6 down to edge out Rainey Old Boys 27-22 at Donnybrook. Rainey produced the stronger finish, forcing a penalty try, and they were hugely frustrated when a Bective prop was yellow carded in the dying minutes, resulting in uncontested scrums just as they were pressing for a second penalty try at scrum time.

Seapoint led MU Barnhall 25-13 early in the second half of their all-Leinster clash at Kilbogget Park, with Simon Tonton, Alex O’Connor and Rory Conway all crossing for tries. However, the Blue Bulls snapped back to win 30-28 in the end with a decisive late penalty goal.

ROUND 3 RESULTS:

Bective Rangers 27 Rainey Old Boys 22, Donnybrook
Armagh 15 Highfield 29, Palace Grounds
Dungannon 23 Greystones 17, Stevenson Park
Seapoint 28 MU Barnhall 30, Kilbogget Park
Sunday’s Well 18 City of Derry 23, Irish Independent Park