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Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Banbridge are back in pole position in Ulster Bank League Division 2A, having taken advantage of round 2 leaders Nenagh’s draw away to Highfield.



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Banbridge 38 Blackrock College 15, Rifle Park
Belfast Harlequins 0 Sunday’s Well 8, Deramore Park
Cashel 15 Corinthians 38, Spafield
Highfield 16 Nenagh Ormond 16, Woodleigh Park
Queen’s University 40 Malone 10, Dub Lane (played on Friday)

Banbridge found an extra gear in the closing 15 minutes to hand Blackrock College a comprehensive 38-15 defeat and return to the top of the pile.

There was very little between the sides at Rifle Park until Bann stormed home with a run of tries from replacement scrum half Josh Cromie, number 8 Stephen Irvine and centre and captain Jonny Little.

Below par against Queen’s University last week, Daniel Soper’s men hit the ground running against ‘Rock, Adam Doherty and John Porter both showing good pace before centre Andrew Morrison crossed in the seventh minute.

It was Morrison who did the damage in the lead-up to hooker Peter Cromie’s try on the quarter hour, but ‘Rock soon opened their account off the back of a couple of penalties. Invited forward, a strong driving maul provided the platform for flanker Luke Hickey to go over.

The Bann defence gave way again when the visitors moved the ball off the back of another maul, working it to winger Rory Conway who scored wide on the left. That meant ‘Rock were only 12-10 behind at the break, with a wind advantage to come.

Cromie’s impact off the bench was already evident early in the second half. His pace off the mark from a tap penalty got Bann into scoring range and off the resulting ruck, new Kiwi winger Simon Lloyd touched down in the corner for Andrew Magrath to swing over a brilliant conversion – 19-10.

Still, just seven minutes later, the excellent ‘Rock lineout once more provided quality possession which they turned into an unconverted try from young centre Hugo Godson Treacy.

The game was right back in the melting pot, but up stepped Cromie to grab a crucial try after his brother, loosehead prop Michael, had been tackled short of the line.

Magrath’s well-struck conversion widened the gap to 26-15, ‘Rock’s resistance really broke when Irvine muscled over from a five-metre scrum and from the restart, Morrison and league debutant Josh Agnew set the wheels in motion for try number six – finished from 25 metres out by the supporting Little.

Meanwhile, Queen’s opened their win account in emphatic style on Friday night as three second half tries propelled them past Malone (40-10) at Dub Lane.

Malone had the better of the first quarter, but winger Michael Barker was thwarted on a threatening right wing break. Queen’s hit the front in the 18th minute when Conor McKee used quick lineout ball to slice through midfield and the supporting Nick Timoney made it over for a seven-pointer – his second in as many games.

The students’ out-half Jack Milligan kept the scoreboard moving with a drop goal and penalty, before Malone’s goal-kicking centre Josh Pentland replied on the half hour mark when punishing a high tackle.

However, it was Malone’s indiscipline that cost them in the lead up to half-time, their captain Neil Alcorn seeing yellow for a ruck infringement close to his try-line. Two more penalties from the ever-accurate Milligan made it 16-3 at the interval.

Queen’s winger Johnny Milliken was next over the whitewash in the 50th minute, intercepting a Michael Cartmill pass to sprint clear from halfway with Milligan converting.

Malone’s bench made a timely impact, clawing back seven points with a well-taken effort from Connor Spence, the former Queen’s scrum half. But the students cruised home with two more converted tries during the final quarter.

Back rowers Nigel Simpson and Timoney combined with McKee to set up replacement Jonny Stewart, the Ulster Academy scrum half, to score by the posts. Milligan converted and also added the extras to Stewart’s late bonus point score, with impressive hooker Zack McCall earning the plaudits for a pinpoint lineout throw and control of the maul.

Also in Belfast, hooker John Moynihan’s first half try – coming in his final appearance before emigrating – saw Sunday’s Well prevail on an 8-0 scoreline against an ill-disciplined Harlequins side.

‘Quins head coach Andrew Gillespie was left to bemoan Mark McFall and Peter Cooper’s first half yellow cards, along with his players’ inability to convert chances into points. Mark Chandler was also successful with a penalty for the ‘Well, who have moved above Cashel into ninth spot.

Highfield and Nenagh Ormond are both still unbeaten in the top half of the table after their entertaining 16-all draw in Saturday’s Munster derby at Woodleigh Park.

Nenagh needed a last minute penalty from Clayton Stewart to earn a share of the spoils, having led by 13 points at one stage during a lively opening 40 minutes that was marked by some bone-crunching tackles.

Centre Willie Coffey finished off Derek Corcoran’s smashing 40-metre break and well-timed pop pass to add to out-half Stewart’s two earlier penalties, but Highfield closed the gap to 13-10 by half-time as experienced lock Dave Kelly lunged over the line from a close-in ruck.

Out-half and captain Paddy O’Toole hammered over two second half penalties to nudge Highfield in front, but Stewart’s late strike held the Corkmen to their second draw in three league matches.

Corinthians broke their duck with a 38-15 bonus point victory over hosts Cashel. They were helped on their way by a trio of first half tries from wingers Colm de Buitlear and Joe Murphy (2), while the Galway club’s back-line also included two key men in Ireland Under-20-capped scrum half Stephen Kerins and full-back David Panter, their captain.

Cashel were frustratingly unable to profit from their dominance of the scrum, as Corinthians lost their second hooker to injury in the second half and uncontested scrums were called for. Their errors in defence were ruthlessly punished by the pacy Corinthians backs, something which they will have to tidy up for next weekend’s visit to Sunday’s Well.