Ballynahinch’s second win in three Ulster Bank League games has boosted their hopes of avoiding relegation from the top flight.
Ballynahinch outplayed a flat Galwegians team on a heavy pitch at Ballymacarn Park, with a strong second half display including converted tries from Blane McIlroy, Aaron Cairns and Conor Joyce.
Division 1A’s bottom side led 9-6 at half-time with goal-kicking winger Chris Quinn nailing three penalty attempts and the visitors’ out-half Shane O’Leary landing two.
Both kickers missed either half of the interval, failing to take advantage of yellow cards for ‘Hinch captain Paul Pritchard and his ‘Wegians counterpart Ja Naughton. But while the latter was off, Robin Harte cut through to set up scrum half McIlroy’s 48th-minute score.
Quinn converted and he added a penalty three minutes later to open up a considerable gap at 19-6. Galwegians flanker Marc Kelly’s third try in the space of a week reduced the arrears to eight points, but ‘Hinch soon found an extra gear.
A superb kick from number 10 Sam Windsor picked out winger Cairns for another seven-pointer with 63 minutes gone, and the result was sealed nine minutes later when flanker Joyce crashed over on the end of a lineout maul. John Cleary finished off a neat back-line move in the dying minutes, but the Galway men were very much second best on the day.
Meanwhile, Scott Deasy played the captain’s role as his late penalty guided Lansdowne to a gritty 19-18 victory over play-off rivals Clontarf on the 4G pitch at Castle Avenue.
The steely out-half kicked 14 points in all, including four penalty goals, to deny Clontarf who had been within touching distance of the win thanks to replacement Eoghan Browne’s try.
History was repeating itself as back in late November, Clontarf missed out on an away triumph over Lansdowne when a late Deasy-converted try saw Mike Ruddock’s men sneak a 23-all draw.
The north Dubliners, beaten by Garryowen last week, got off to a poor start today as Deasy slotted two penalties and converted returning scrum half Adam Griggs’ try – the New Zealander seized his chance to dive over from a close-in ruck.
Deasy’s opposite number, Joey Carbery, showed lovely hands to create an unconverted try for winger Rob McGrath which settled ‘Tarf down. Carbery tagged on a penalty early in the second half to make it 13-8.
The tide seemed to be turning as Carbery soon made it a two-point game. A costly yellow card for Clontarf replacement scrum half Sam Cronin saw Deasy respond off the kicking tee and although Carbery successfully converted Browne’s try, it was Deasy who had the decisive say for the reigning champions.
Cork Constitution continued their strong start to 2016 with a 32-0 bonus point win over a well-beaten Old Belvedere side at Temple Hill this afternoon.
Brian Hickey’s men picked up five valuable league points for the second week running, with centre Ned Hodson dotting down in each half. It was a confidence-boosting result ahead of next Saturday’s Bateman Cup semi-final trip to Division 1A leaders UCD.
Playing into the wind and rain, Con watched ‘Belvo out-half Steve Crosbie miss an early penalty before busy blindside flanker Luke Cahill crashed over from a ruck ten metres out.
The conversion was added by Munster out-half Johnny Holland, who got some decent game-time as he returns from a hamstring injury, and a combination of backs of forwards teed up Hodson’s opening five-pointer.
Holland sandwiched in a couple of penalties either side of half-time, leaving the Dubliners 18-0 adrift, and it got worse for the visitors when Con captain James Ryan crossed in the 48th minute.
Holland’s successful conversion completed his 10-point haul and Hodson went on to secure the bonus point with 12 minutes remaining, the extras coming from the boot of replacement Darragh Lyons.
It was business as usual at the Belfield Bowl where Division 1A pacesetters UCD swept Garryowen aside in a 45-19 bonus point triumph.
With Leinster young guns Ross Byrne and Nick McCarthy directing operations from half-back, the students extended their winning streak to six games and pushed seven points clear at the summit.
Garryowen great and 1948 Grand Slam winner Paddy Reid, for whom there was a minute’s silence held before kick-off, would have been thrilled with the running rugby on show, albeit that his beloved Light Blues were left trailing 21-7 by half-time.
Barry Daly broke through midfield to set up a fifth minute opener for fellow winger Adam Byrne, and the long-striding Daly soon got over in the right corner for his eighth try of the league run.
Garryowen answered back with a Neil Cronin try off a five-metre scrum but despite some strong carries from Munster’s Jordan Coghlan (who started in the centre) and Shane Buckley, the visitors fell further behind when Adam Byrne bagged his second try out wide.
UCD held firm amid some early Garryowen pressure in the second period and it was Daly who sidestepped his way under the posts for the bonus point score on the hour mark.
Although the Limerick men hit back with an intercept effort from Coghlan, Dan Leavy was next on the scoresheet for UCD, with Sean McNulty supplying the assist after gathering a Ross Byrne cross-field kick.
There was still time for two more College tries in the closing quarter of an hour, Leavy completing his brace from a Jamie Glynn kick through and a bout of forward pressure paving the way for full-back Billy Dardis to skip over. Garryowen openside Dave Sherry grabbed a late consolation score while UCD were down to 14 men.
South African scrum half Abrie Griesel grabbed the only try of a closely-fought encounter as Young Munster got back to winning ways – 14-6 – against struggling Terenure College.
Conditions were not ideal at Tom Clifford Park and not surprisingly there were precious few try-scoring opportunities in a contest that saw second-from-bottom ‘Nure have a player sin-binned in each half.
Jake Swaine cancelled out Gearoid Lyons’ brace of penalties with two of his own as the sides turned around at the break level-pegging (6-6).
The all-important try arrived in the 53rd minute. Terenure seemed to have won their own scrum but the ball popped out and the ever-alert Griesel pounced for his second touchdown of the campaign.
His half-back partner Lyons was unable to convert but he made sure of the league points with his third successful penalty of the afternoon, six minutes from the end.
The result moved David Corkery’s charges back up to fifth in the table – just a point behind third-placed Garryowen with a game in hand. Terenure also have an extra fixture to play, but a poor run of form has seen them lose four of their last five matches.