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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

City of Derry are the only team with a perfect 100% winning record across the five divisions following their hard-earned 20-17 victory over Greystones at Judge’s Road.

Staying six points clear at the top of Division 2B, City of Derry staved off a strong finish from Greystones as first half converted tries from Chris Cooper and Steven Dickey proved all important for Terry McMaster’s men.

Those two scores had the hosts leading 14-3 at the turnaround, a late penalty from Killian Marmion getting the Co. Wicklow outfit off the mark. Prop Sam Duffy did the initial damage for the first try, powering through before getting his offload away for lock Cooper to touch down.

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Neil Burns converted and Derry went close to adding a quick-fire second try. Simon Logue had the try-line in sight when he failed to hold onto a long searching pass from Richard McCarter, while the latter teed up Craig Huey for a try-scoring opportunity that ended with him held up just short.

The Ulstermen eventually got over the whitewash again while Greystones flanker Blake Hill was in the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on. With the penalty dispatched to the corner and lineout possession secured, openside Dickey drove over out wide and Burns followed up with a cracking conversion.

However, ‘Stones picked up the pace either side of half-time with Marmion knocking over his penalty and winger Paudie Geoghegan grabbing a 43rd minute try that was converted for 14-10.

Derry’s error count increased as the Wicklow men garnered more possession and territory and it took an Andrew Semple penalty to steady the hosts’ nerves. He added another following a high tackle.

But some poor turnovers and aimless kicking left Derry under pressure for the remainder of the match. Centre Conor Shiel duly finished off Greystones’ second try with six minutes left. Marmion’s conversion suddenly made it a three-point game.

The visitors threw the kitchen sink at the league leaders as the clock ticked down. Derry had to defend a series of threatening attacks in their own 22 before referee Brian Deighan’s final whistle brought great relief for the home players and fans alike.

Derry face a tough trip down to Highfield in round 7 next Saturday, with the Corkmen having won their last five matches. Timmy Ryan’s charges ran out 14-3 winners over Seapoint in their most recent outing.

Ahead of their top of the table clash with Derry, Highfield produced a workmanlike display at Woodleigh Park where a first half penalty try and a 49th minute effort from Paul Stack saw them past Seapoint.

Armagh and Sunday’s Well are leading the chasing pack behind the top two at present, with both clubs enjoying wins on the road last weekend. Armagh, who are up to third place, made it back-to-back bonus point victories as they swept past MU Barnhall on a 29-15 scoreline at Parsonstown.

The Alex McCloy and Willie Faloon-coached visitors had to recover from a sloppy start as centre Emmet Quinn broke through for a converted try to give Barnhall a 10-3 buffer. Armagh squared things up for half-time when Matthew Hooks (pictured below) burst through midfield and stretched over for a seven-pointer.

Johnny Pollock also added the extras to Armagh’s second try early in the second period, after flanker James Morton gathered a loose ball at a ruck and barged over to the left of the posts.

The Kildare men closed the gap to 17-15 with their second try of the afternoon. While Armagh centre Hooks was in the sin-bin for tackling a player in the air, home full-back Ben McCarthy crossed in the left corner. But that proved to the Barnhall’s final score.

Armagh upped the intensity and tempo with captain Neil Faloon notching try number three, again converted by Pollock. And their bonus point push was rewarded in the end as winger Josh Morton intercepted a pass in his own half and darted clear for a well-taken unconverted effort.

Sunday’s Well tallied up five tries as they pulled away from a strong Bective Rangers side for a 35-17 triumph at Donnybrook.

Four well-struck penalties from captain Rob O’Beirn had Bective 12-11 in front at the break. The Dubliners also showed their ability under the high ball with Adam Philpott and Oisin Lennon making some excellent catches.

The ‘Well scored a terrific opening try in the first half. A lightning quick attack saw Ross O’Mahoney hauled down short, before the ball was moved to the left and then back to the right where scrum half Peter Arigho’s quick stepping created an overlap and Kieran Stokes and Greg Higgins combined to put centre O’Mahoney over (pictured below).

The visitors’ open attacking rugby, coupled with some smart tactical kicking, was rewarded in a dominant second half display. Hooker John Moynihan struck for a trademark try from a lineout maul before Bective responded with their lone touchdown from Ian O’Connor.

The home side pressed for another, going through a number of promising phases, but flanker Stokes’ crucial interception lifted the pressure on Sunday’s Well and they went up through the gears for a brilliant finish to the game.

Out-half Shane O’Riordan’s half-break and inviting pop pass paved the way for full-back Higgins to go over unopposed. Second row David Heaphy put his name to the ‘Well’s first try-scoring bonus point of the season, finishing in impressive fashion in the 67th minute following good work by Eoin Geary and Mark Chandler.

Robbie Doyle’s charges added some more gloss as Higgins completed his brace late on, with the final try edging them above Greystones into fourth spot on scoring difference.

Rainey Old Boys won their mid-Ulster derby clash with Dungannon, making the necessary improvements after a poor start to eventually take a 22-13 verdict at Hatrick Park.

Dungannon, who had lost their last two games, led 10-0 by the end of a one-sided first quarter. An overcooked touchfinder from full-back Josh McIlroy gave the visitors an inviting lineout position, and they took full advantage to send centre Seamus Mallon in at the posts

McIlroy redeemed himself with three penalty goals to close the gap to 13-9 by half-time, and Dungannon ultimately paid the price for missing some place-kicks through the usually reliable Paul Armstrong and failing to convert late pressure into a second try.

Rainey opened the scoring in the second period, the experienced Peter Boyle breaking through and offloading for young replacement Ronan McCusker to touch down with McIlroy converting. There were errors from both sides with provincial bragging rights and important league points on the line.

The Magherafelt outfit were more composed when it mattered most, though, McIlroy taking his tally to 14 points before Gavin Martin tagged on a sweetly-struck late drop goal to confirm Rainey as victors and deny Dungannon a losing bonus point.

ROUND 6 RESULTS –

Bective Rangers 17 Sunday’s Well 35, Donnybrook
City of Derry 20 Greystones 17, Judge’s Road
Highfield 14 Seapoint 3, Woodleigh Park
MU Barnhall 15 Armagh 29, Parsonstown
Rainey Old Boys 22 Dungannon 13, Hatrick Park