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Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

With round 1 leaders Banbridge drawing with Queen’s, unbeaten Nenagh Ormond and Blackrock College have now climbed to the summit of Ulster Bank League Division 2A.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE DIVISION 2A: Saturday, September 24


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Corinthians 11 Belfast Harlequins 16, Corinthian Park
Malone 3 Highfield 3, Gibson Park
Queen’s University 19 Banbridge 19, Dub Lane
Sunday’s Well 23 Blackrock College 33, Irish Independent Park
Nenagh Ormond 30 Cashel 14, New Ormond Park (played on Friday)

Nenagh Ormond won their Friday Night Lights derby with Cashel, with new out-half Clayton Stewart having a starring role in their 30-14 bonus point win. He thrilled the Lisatunny faithful with a stunning reverse pass that covered 20 metres to put winger Eathon Moloney over in the corner for Nenagh’s first try.

That cancelled out an earlier try from Cashel, who had never lost to Nenagh before in their six seasons in the league. The visitors’ pack got the shove on at a 14th minute scrum for influential number 8 James Ryan to touch down. 

Conor Holland and Stewart kicked two penalties apiece as the first half ended level pegging – 11-all. The big crowd were kept royally entertained by the running rugby played by both sides and there were some bone-crunching tackles in this all-Tipperary tie.

It was Cashel’s turn to press early in the second period. They hammered away at the Nenagh defence, but the home side resisted superbly and their reward was a 52nd minute try down the other end. Stewart was the scorer after Cashel spilled lineout ball near the Nenagh 22 and flanker Anthony Grey launched a thrilling breakout, with Stewart winning the short race to Michael Walsh’s kick through.

The conversion was floated over by Stewart for an 18-11 lead, and the hard-working Grey touched down just five minutes later. Centre Willie O’Connor’s midfield break did the initial damage, Stewart’s skip pass connected with Kevin O’Flaherty in the Cashel 22 and the lock then straightened up to feed Grey for a dive over the line.

An Oliver McGlinchey penalty, with 62 minutes on the clock, gave Cashel something to aim for at 23-14 down, however Nenagh had the better of the closing stages and a spell of late pressure led to 20-point hero Stewart ghosted through a gap for the bonus point score which he converted.

Ulster Academy back rower and Ireland Sevens international Nick Timoney scored a first half try as Queen’s University drew 19-all with Banbridge at the weather-beaten Dub.

The students’ first half dominance of territory saw them push 16 points clear in the wind and rain. Out-half Jack Milligan quickly found his range with two well-struck penalties in the conditions, and the Queen’s backs ran an Ian Porter kick back with interest, setting up Timoney to go over in the left corner.

Milligan increased his influence with a successful conversion and a neatly-taken drop goal before half-time, handing the hosts a 16-0 lead as they turned into the elements. Crucially, Banbridge manufactured a quick response when play resumed, threatening through their maul off a penalty to the corner before prop Stuart Cromie forced his way over by the posts for Andrew Magrath to convert.

Ulster Academy out-half Magrath showed his class when hanging up a perfectly delivered cross-field kick for flanker Robin Sinton to touch down out wide. With the scoreboard showing 16-12, Magrath’s conversion attempt came back off the post.

Milligan broke up Bann’s unanswered run of scores with his third successful penalty, however Queen’s, who lost to Daniel Soper’s men twice last season, were under intense pressure during the final quarter.

Banbridge winger Adam Ervine pulled his hamstring as he chased down a possible try from a grubber kick, but there was no denying Simon Lloyd, Ervine’s injury replacement, when he finished off a half-break from Dale Carson. Magrath’s terrific conversion from the touchline brought Bann level and that is how it stayed, with Milligan and Magrath both missing late penalty attempts.

Meanwhile, two second half tries propelled Belfast Harlequins to their maiden win of the campaign as they came out on top against Corinthians (16-11). Connacht Academy hooker Pat O’Toole touched down late on to gain a losing bonus point for the Galway outfit.

New Zealander Billy Ngawini, who has moved from Old Wesley to play and coach at Blackrock, crossed for two tries in ‘Rock’s 33-23 bonus point victory away to Sunday’s Well. The sidestepping full-back finished off a fine back-line move to help the visitors on their way to a 23-13 half-time lead.

The ‘Well were first over the try-line, centre Mark Chandler cutting inside to score in the seventh minute after an Eoin Geary kick down the wing had been regathered by number 8 James Mulcahy in the difficult, slippery conditions.

The reliable lineout platform created by ‘Rock second row Owen Cullen laid the foundations for tries from Ngawini and loosehead James Tate. Scrum half Jack Carroll also kicked two first half penalties – a tally matched by Geary – and converted Tom Cooke’s score when the hooker reacted quickest to a loose ‘Well lineout.

Ngawini flew in to chalk up the bonus point, early in the second period, but the injury-hit Corkmen rallied thanks to the ball-carrying impact off the bench of Sean Glynn and captain Cyprien Jouve’s move from the back row to midfield. A close-in lineout yielded a try for hooker John Moynihan, converted by Chandler whose subsequent penalty reduced the arrears to 30-23.

The ‘Well scrum dug deep to win a couple of key penalties close to their own whitewash, preventing ‘Rock from sealing the result until Carroll knocked over a penalty to put 10 points between the sides. Robbie Doyle’s men pressed for a late losing bonus point, but Chandler was off-target with a 35-metre penalty effort.

Meanwhile, Paddy O’Toole and Callum Smith traded penalties as Malone and Highfield drew 3-all at Gibson Park. A combination of dogged defending and poor handling in attack saw both sides miss out on tries, with Highfield going closest through their backs. Smith’s 60th-minute penalty levelled matters after O’Toole had kicked the Corkmen ahead, five minutes before the interval.