Sunday’s Well were the main movers in Division 2B of the Ulster Bank League over the weekend, slipping into third place on the back of a hard-earned 19-15 win at home to Armagh.
The division is hugely competitive at present with pacesetters City of Derry holding a six-point lead over Highfield in second, Sunday’s Well a further four points back and notably, just eight points separate the ‘Well from second-from-bottom MU Barnhall. Despite still searching for their first win, tenth-placed Seapoint are playing well enough to suggest that their fortunes could change soon.
In the latest round, Seapoint ran City of Derry desperately close, falling to a 20-18 defeat at Kilbogget Park as they picked up their fourth losing bonus point in eight defeats.
Trailing 15-3 at half-time, Seapoint had the wind at their backs in the second half and fought back in impressive fashion with three tries in the corner, including a final one from prop Brian Duggan who closed the gap to just two points. Unfortunately, the conversion proved too difficult in the blustery conditions and the Ulstermen prevailed thanks to earlier tries from David Houston, David Funston and Sam Duffy.
Derry will want to put a disappointing final quarter behind them when they host local rivals Rainey Old Boys next Saturday. Rainey got back to winning ways with a well-judged 18-13 victory at home to Highfield who were suffering only their second reversal of the campaign.
The Cork outfit needed a late penalty from Dylan Horgan to gain a losing bonus point in Magherafelt, while Fintan O’Sullivan put his name to the visitors’ two tries. Rainey used the elements to their advantage to take a 13-0 interval lead and although Highfield came back strongly, the Derry men stood firm to take the spoils and stay just four points behind third-placed Sunday’s Well.
In an equally closely-fought encounter at Irish Independent Park, the ‘Well edged out fellow promotion hopefuls Armagh on a 19-15 scoreline with out-half Shane O’Riordan kicking four penalties and converting Eoin Geary’s intercept try.
O’Riordan landed three successful kicks in the first half at the end of which the hosts were 9-3 to the good. Out-half Johnny Pollock got Armagh off the mark with a lone penalty.
The Ulstermen pressed to very good effect in the third quarter, their right winger Josh Morton breaking through for an unconverted try as the ‘Well struggled to take advantage of a strong wind at their backs.
O’Riordan replied with another well-struck penalty and straight from the restart, alert centre Geary (pictured below) gobbled up a loose Armagh pass and darted through for a try which O’Riordan converted. Credit to Armagh, they battled on and deservedly gained a losing bonus point thanks to a closing seven-pointer from replacement David Swann.
On the 4G surface at Donnybrook, Bective Rangers and Dungannon scored 60 points and nine tries between them as the Co. Tyrone side triumphed 33-27 in a very entertaining tussle.
A late penalty from Gearoid O’Grady earned Bective their second bonus point of the day, but they were edged out on try count – five to four – with Dungannon full-back Paul Armstrong booting four conversions.
Bective’s number 8 John Byrne charged over for a fifth minute try and centre Oscar O Cleirigh also touched down later in the first half. However, in between, Dungannon forced the issue at scrum time with Glen Sinnamon proving influential in earning a 13th minute penalty try which Armstrong converted.
‘Gannon swooped on a lost Bective lineout with lock Ross McCaughey driving through before the ball was moved along the back-line for centre Seamus Mallon to cross the whitewash. Armstrong converted and the visitors moved into a 19-10 lead by the interval as a fortunate bounce saw winger Jonathan Toal score out wide.
The gap was down to just two points after O’Grady converted Bective tighthead Eoin Heffernan’s 43rd-minute try, and the tries kept coming as home winger Ian O’Connor cancelled out an effort from Dungannon back rower Robbie Anderson.
In a key spell in the game, Bective had a player sin-binned for taking Anderson out in the air and Dungannon duly ran in their fifth try in the 65th minute, McCaughey using his pace and power to get over after following up on an initial John Buckley break. Bective threatened out wide during the closing stages and although they failed to cross the whitewash again, a central O’Grady penalty ensured their losing bonus point.
Meanwhile, MU Barnhall won for the first time in four league outings as they got the better of Greystones on a 17-5 scoreline. The match was played at the Maynooth University grounds, coinciding with the college’s Open Day, and ‘Stones were overhauled despite opening the scoring with a 10th minute try from Padraig Geoghegan.
ROUND 8 RESULTS –
Bective Rangers 27 Dungannon 33, Donnybrook
MU Barnhall 17 Greystones 5, Maynooth University Grounds
Rainey Old Boys 18 Highfield 13, Hatrick Park
Seapoint 18 City of Derry 20, Kilbogget Park
Sunday’s Well 19 Armagh 15, Irish Independent Park