Sunday’s Well claimed their opening league victory by edging out Rainey Old Boys in a tight game at Hatrick Park, while Division 2B leaders City of Derry extended their winning run to four matches.
City of Derry laid the foundations for their 35-17 Ulster derby win over Armagh with a three-try first half salvo – Neil Burns, Adam Bratton and John Burns all touched down during the opening 40 minutes at Judge’s Road.
However, they had to wait until the last play to secure their bonus point via an Ian Bratton score, as Armagh dominated possession and produced a much-improved second half display.
Out-half Neil Burns kicked two penalties after 8 and 15 minutes to get the table toppers off the mark. With their front five providing quality ball, Neil Brown beat a couple of players and passed for Neil Burns to score a seven-pointer from 20 metres out.
A second line-break from winger Brown paved the way for a 27th minute try, Armagh getting caught for numbers as the ball was shifted along the back-line and second row Adam Bratton had a simple finish by the posts.
Neil Burns’ successful conversion was cancelled out by a Johnny Pollock penalty on the half hour mark, but Derry closed out the first half’s scoring with another try – back rower John Burns was driven over from a close range lineout with his brother Neil converting for a 27-3 scoreline at the turnaround.
Armagh capitalised on a Derry fumble to put the home side under prolonged pressure early in the second period, the wave of attacks resulting in James Morton scoring a converted try. Yellow cards followed for Derry centre David Graham and Armagh captain Neil Faloon, in separate incidents, as a degree of niggle crept into the game.
A 53rd minute penalty from Neil Burns pushed the margin out to 20 points, but Armagh soon forced the issue again. Derry leaked a series of penalties and scrum half Andrew Semple and lock Chris Cooper paid the price with yellow cards in the 62nd and 66th minutes.
It took some gritty defending from Terry McMaster’s side to keep Armagh out until the visitors’ scrum won a penalty try with little over ten minutes remaining. However, a subsequent sin-binning derailed Armagh’s comeback bid and replacement Ian Bratton evaded a couple of defenders to score in the corner for Derry, following Richard McCarter’s excellent initial break and good hands from captain David Ferguson.
Greystones’ third win in four league games has moved them up to third place in the table. They beat Leinster rivals Seapoint 21-10 at Dr. Hickey Park with Padraic Geoghegan running in two tries, his second in the corner in the 64th minute extending the lead to 16-3.
A brilliant break from Blake Hill saw him follow up with the clinching try out wide just three minutes later. Barry Lynn kicked two first half penalties for ‘Stones, with Seapoint gaining some consolation with a late converted try.
Dungannon lost for the first time in three outings as they went down 36-14 to a powerful Highfield outfit at Woodleigh Park. Timmy Ryan’s men kicked on in the second half having led 10-7 at the interval.
Chris Bannon and Darren Simpson swapped tries with a Paddy O’Toole penalty splitting the sides. After conceding a Brian O’Hea try, Dungannon failed to take advantage of a sin-binning for the Cork side and they missed two penalty opportunities.
Highfield showed them how it is done as following a Simpson yellow card in the final quarter, they cantered clear on the scoreboard with tries from Dave O’Hea and Sean Quaid. Dungannon full-back Paul Armstrong converted his own try to reduce the deficit to 22 points by the finish.
Rainey Old Boys and Sunday’s Well both emptied their tanks in a very closely-fought and defence-dominated encounter at Hatrick Park where replacement back Peter Browner put his name to the match-winning try.
Rainey were leading 6-3 heading into the final ten minutes when an offside call against them invited the ‘Well forward. From a scrum on the right hand side, the visitors injected great pace and precision into a back-line move. They fed Browner on the left wing where he cut inside the first defender, shipped a tackle from the second and drove forward to reach over the whitewash for a cracking try.
Taking over the kicking duties from Eoin Geary who picked up a knock, Mark Chandler expertly swung over the conversion from out wide to crucially put four points between the sides. Rainey, with the lion’s share of territory and a couple of close-in scrums late on, were unable to respond.
At Parsonstown, MU Barnhall gave themselves a timely boost by battling past Bective Rangers on a 21-16 scoreline. The result moves the Blue Bulls up to seventh in the standings, a point behind fifth-placed Bective who have made a solid start with two wins and two bonus points.
ROUND 4 RESULTS:
City of Derry 35 Armagh 17, Judge’s Road
Greystones 21 Seapoint 10, Dr. Hickey Park
Highfield 36 Dungannon 14, Woodleigh Park
MU Barnhall 21 Bective Rangers 16, Parsonstown
Rainey Old Boys 6 Sunday’s Well 10, Hatrick Park