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Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Malone picked up their fourth try-scoring bonus point in seven games as they comprehensively beat Nenagh Ormond 47-10 to move to the top of Ulster Bank League Division 2A.

With Banbridge and Cashel both losing, Malone have nipped ahead in the race for promotion. Jarrett Truscott’s side, buoyed by their win in Cashel last weekend, following up with a 37-point hammering of the division’s other Tipperary club, Nenagh Ormond.

Full-back Mark O’Connor was in top-scoring form at Gibson Park, bagging a try, four conversions and three penalties for a 22-point haul, while Malone also registered a penalty try and Adam Liddell, Rory Campbell, Lee Barlow and Nathan Brown shared out the other five-pointers.

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The Cregagh Red Sox were clinical throughout with ball in hand and while the final scoreline may have flattered them slightly, Nenagh’s lone try from Kevin O’Gorman, which made it 40-10, was mere consolation.

The visitors had a penalty in the first half from Jack Molamphy, in response to centre Liddell’s opening try and a 40-metre penalty from O’Connor. Another well-struck kick from the latter was followed by an opportunist 15th minute touchdown from lively winger Campbell, who popped up in the middle of a back-line move.

O’Connor converted and 18-3 is how it stayed up to half-time, as tempers flared in the second quarter and both sides suffered yellow cards – the two Nenagh centres Willie O’Connor and Derek Corcoran were binned as was Malone winger Campbell.

Experienced prop Barlow was brought into the Malone front row on the restart and he forced an early penalty which O’Connor sent through the uprights. Barlow then increased his influence with a smashing seven-pointer, brushing aside a couple of defenders on his way to the line.

The home forwards laid the platform for the bonus point score, quick ball allowing the backs to release O’Connor for a try which he converted himself. Out-half Josh Pentland provided the assist for try number five, putting centre Brown over for another converted effort.

A couple of penalties invited the visitors forward and from a lineout five metres out, the Nenagh pack maul through for O’Gorman to dot down. Malone made sure they had the final say, though, as their forwards outscrummaged the Tipp men to win a penalty try that O’Connor converted.

Malone’s next assignment in the league is a mouth-watering derby clash with Queen’s University in three weeks’ time. Queen’s showed impressive battling qualities when scoring a bonus point try in the final play to pip Cashel 26-23 at Spafield.

Trailing 23-19 and down to 13 men, the students won possession back from a crooked Cashel lineout. From a scrum, they attacked out to the right and won a penalty which was quickly tapped and with the home defence caught napping, Farrell raided through to score by the posts.

Farrell’s bonus point score supplemented earlier tries from Ulster Academy member Jake Byrne (2) and Connor Kelly, who played on the wing for the Ulster Under-20s this season.

Winger Eamonn Connolly scored the hosts’ opening try in the seventh minute, following up on good approach work from Michael Crosse and Kevin Leamy. Cashel led 13-7 at the break and a brave decision to go for the corner when 19-16 behind paid off as Brian McLoughlin crashed over from the resulting lineout maul. Tom McHale converted both tries and also kicked three penalties.

Just like their Queen’s counterparts, UCC needed a late score to edge out Banbridge 27-26 in a cliffhanger at the Mardyke. The Cork students were coasting when leading 24-0 at half-time, their three converted tries coming from James Kiernan, Kevin Slater and Eddie Earle.

Bann dominated the second half, running in four tries to edge ahead in sight of full-time. However, two bonus points was their only return from this end-to-end round 7 tie as UCC’s classy full-back Kevin O’Keeffe stepped forward as their match winner – he fired over a last-minute penalty to give the hosts a one-point winning margin.

Meanwhile, Skerries got back to winning ways at Holmpatrick, outscoring Thomond by three tries to one in a 28-22 victory. The result saw the Dubliners leapfrog the visitors into seventh in the table.

There was a try apiece in the opening half, Eddie O’Mahony and Skerries captain Ross McAuley combining to set up Kevin McGrath for a brilliant opener from the hosts. McAuley’s flick pass to McGrath really did the damage.

Thomond hit back with an excellent spell of continuity, and pressure from the forwards resulted in a maul try credited to front rower Geoff O’Donoghue. The conversion was added by out-half Fionn McGibney who soon slotted his third successful penalty for a 16-10 lead at the break.

McGibney’s personal tally was 17 points by the finish, but Skerries’ greater try-scoring threat and finishing ability eventually saw them home. Number 8 McAuley was next over the whitewash, touching down from a long accurate pass from Kiwi out-half James Faiva.

Benefiting from increasing levels of intensity, Skerries were swiftly back on the attack and hooker Chris Tonge broke through a gap in the Thomond defence to dot down. Faiva’s conversion made it 25-19.

After McGibney and Faiva swapped further penalties, Skerries survived a spirited set of late attacks from Thomond, their committed tackling and defensive organisation seeing them prevail by six points in the end.

At Forenaughts, Corinthians crashed to a heavy 41-14 loss to hosts Naas as the Galway club’s three-match winning run was brought to an end.

Ene Fa’atau’s charges actually enjoyed the better start as second row Sean Connolly was driven over in the left corner from a tremendous lineout maul. However, that proved to be their only try of the afternoon as Naas gradually went up through the gears.

Naas player-coach Johne Murphy, who started on the right wing, finished off a 10th minute try which out-half Peter Osborne converted. Two James Proctor penalties put Corinthians back in front at 11-7.

The visitors held a seven-point lead after Proctor landed the second of two penalty attempts in the 28th and 30th minutes, with the Kildare side guilty of losing their discipline at ruck time.

An Osborne penalty from 35 metres out reduced the arrears to 14-10 by half-time, and as their confidence grew on the back of an early Henry Bryce try, Naas succeeded in dominating the second period.

Strongly-built centre Bryce bulldozed through in brilliant fashion from his own quick tap and Osborne converted. Flanker Pauley Tolofua set the wheels in motion for the next try, breaking from halfway up to the Corinthians 22 where he linked with Murphy before an inside pass sent supporting full-back Fionn Higgins over for a superb seven-pointer. Suddenly, Naas were 24-14 to the good.

The bonus point was secured in the 66th minute, replacements Niall O’Neill and David Aherne engineering an attack on the left that led to Murphy completing his brace. Osborne kept up his excellent kicking display by nailing the touchline conversion.

A scrum penalty was sent through the posts by Osborne in the 71st minute, and the final gloss came when Higgins nabbed his second touchdown. Scrum half O’Neill forced a turnover and attacked from the ensuing scrum, inviting Higgins forward and the full-back scored after winning the race to his own kick over the top. Osborne converted for good measure, taking his own tally to 16 points.

ROUND 7 RESULTS –

Cashel 23 Queen’s University 26, Spafield
Malone 47 Nenagh Ormond 10, Gibson Park
Naas 41 Corinthians 14, Forenaughts
Skerries 28 Thomond 22, Holmpatrick
UCC 27 Banbridge 26, the Mardyke