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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Armagh and Greystones are still neck and neck at the business end of Ulster Bank League Division 2B after both sides maintained their winning form away from home on Saturday.



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Bective Rangers 6 Greystones 20, Donnybrook
City of Derry 13 Thomond 13, Judge’s Road
Dungannon 9 Armagh 18, Stevenson Park
MU Barnhall 27 Skerries 24, Parsonstown
Old Crescent 24 Wanderers 16, Rosbrien

Seecond-placed Greystones started and finished strongly in their 20-6 victory over provincial rivals Bective Rangers. Kiwi hooker Mike Lea crossed in the 10th minute at Donnybrook and added his second try just seven minutes later, reaching over in the corner after linking with number 8 and captain Bobby Clancy.

Both tries were unconverted and Bective profited from Clancy’s sin-binning to slot two penalties after 27 and 38 minutes, reducing the arrears to 10-6 for half-time.

But Rangers failed to score in the second half, with ‘Stones gaining control of the scoreboard again courtesy of an early penalty from Andrew Kealy. Some slick interplay between backs and forwards led to Clancy scoring by the posts for Kealy to seal a 14-point winning margin.

The big Ulster derby between Dungannon and Armagh at Stevenson Park ended in an 18-9 win for the league leaders. Tianua Poto’s three penalties were not enough to gain a losing bonus point for ‘Gannon, who leaked a try in each half – including one from an overthrown five-metre lineout – to Andrew Smyth and Ryan Purvis.

Meanwhile, lowly City of Derry and Thomond picked up their first points of the campaign when playing out a dramatic 13-all draw at Judge’s Road.

Centre Neil Burns’ brilliantly-struck late penalty earned a share of the spoils for Derry, ending their five-match losing run in all competitions, but they were left to rue their failure a series of missed scoring opportunities.

Thomond breathed a sigh of relief when they prevented Derry winger Ian Bratton from scoring a match-winning try in injury-time, while Burns also sent a kickable drop goal effort wide. There was still enough time for Thomond’s excellent full-back Dermot Fitzgerald to almost score at the other end, a vital tackle from Jack Beattie denying him just a couple of metres short, before a subsequent penalty from the touchline was missed by Fitzgerald.

The game also began in breathless fashion, a kick through being gobbled up by Derry winger Bratton for a five-point lead after just 68 seconds. But Derry, despite their scrum dominance, could not shake Thomond off their tails.

Fitzgerald knocked over a 14th minute penalty before an intense bout of scrum pressure gave Derry number 8 Stephen Corr a simple finish over the whitewash, at the back of an advancing five-metre set piece.

However, Fitzgerald booted his second penalty before half-time and also converted winger Gary Bateman’s 55th-minute try, the product of some spirited and well-executed attacking out wide from the division’s bottom side. Burns, though, had the final say with his long range kick, ensuring a tight but thrilling finish.

MU Barnhall and Old Crescent both opened their win accounts at the third time of asking, the Kildare outfit squeezing past Skerries on a 27-24 scoreline at Parsonstown.

Skerries looked to be well in control when leading 24-8 at half-time, their number 8 and captain Ross McAuley bagging a brace to take his try tally to five in three league outings. Mark Nally and Chris Tonge also dotted down for the Dubliners.

But they were not banking on a 19-point second half blitz from the Blue Bulls, who had tries from Eoin McCreary, Darren Hudson (his second in as many games) and Ben McCarthy during their stirring comeback. Skipper Simon Gillespie supplied two conversions.

Old Crescent consigned Wanderers to their second successive defeat (24-16), climbing above the Dubliners into sixth place in the process. Their three tries at Rosbrien came from influential backs Val McDermott (7 minutes), Brian Tuohy (20) and Larry Hanly (43).

Robert Clune’s converted try, three minutes from time, was a case of too little, too late for Wanderers, as a penalty from Barry Neville on the hour mark already had Crescent too far out of reach.