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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

It is an Ulster one-two at the top of Division 2B after leaders Armagh’s fifth win on the trot and Dungannon’s 16-point dismissal of previously unbeaten Greystones.



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City of Derry 24 Wanderers 30, Judge’s Road
Dungannon 35 Greystones 19, Stevenson Park
MU Barnhall 41 Thomond 0, Parsonstown
Old Crescent 14 Bective Rangers 22, Rosbrien
Skerries 16 Armagh 32, Holmpatrick

Armagh emerged as double scores winners (32-16) at Holmpatrick on Saturday afternoon, condemning Skerries to their fourth straight loss and a slide down to eighth place overall.

Despite having most of the possession and territory in the opening 15 minutes, Skerries were first to concede. From their first visit to the hosts’ 22, the Armagh pack drove into scoring range and captain Ali Birch broke to the left where he managed to score out wide.

The Dubliners got off the mark thanks to two penalties from out-half Paul O’Loghlen, but a penalty and an opportunist drop goal from their English number 10 Harvey Young restored the visitors’ lead. That was until just before half-time when the Goats kicked a penalty towards the corner and a power-packed maul saw hooker Chris Tonge ground the ball.

Skerries were only briefly level at 11-all, though, as a tremendous run by Armagh number 8 Neil Faloon set the wheels in motion for Young’s 42nd-minute try which he ran in with aplomb and converted himself.

The scores kept coming for Alex McCloy’s men as Skerries could not cope with the pace and precision of the table toppers’ play. Five minutes later, turnover ball on halfway was moved wide to winger Andrew Willis whose direct run ended with him crashing over in the corner. Young also nailed an excellent conversion for 25-11.

Back rower Faloon deservedly got over for the bonus point score with just under 15 minutes remaining. Skerries had a player in the sin-bin when an Armagh penalty was nudged down the line and Faloon peeled off the back of the resulting lineout maul to score with Young converting.

With the game safe, Armagh eased off and their indiscipline was punished with two yellow cards – second row Oliver Miller for offside and Willie Martin for a deliberate knock-on. Their sudden numerical advantage allowed Skerries through for a second try from Tonge but nothing more.

Wanderers ran in four tries against lowly City of Derry to post their second win on the trot, but the margin should have been much bigger than 30-24. The Dubliners, who had top performances from Niall O’Donoghue, Robert Clune and Brian Quill, left a number of tries behind them in the first half, before sealing the result and the bonus point in the 58th minute.

Richard McCarter’s Derry will take heart from how they finished the match, coming from 20 points down to score two converted tries and pick up their first losing bonus point of the league season.

Meanwhile, Greystones suffered their first setback of the campaign when they went down 35-19 to Dungannon at Stevenson Park. The Tyrone men just had too much in the end, a late 10-point spurt including the bonus point try from full-back and man-of-the-match Paul Armstrong.

Only three points separated the sides at half-time (10-7), Dungannon getting the nudge on at a series of five-metre scrums to register a penalty try and add to Tianua Poto’s earlier three-pointer. But Greystones closed the gap with a converted effort from lock John Campbell.

Armstrong grabbed his first try of the afternoon to open the second half scoring, outstripping the cover to win the race to scrum half Jack Ravey’s long chip over the top. Poto could not convert and ‘Stones were quick to respond, Campbell’s second row partner Dan Mannion dotting down for a 15-14 scoreline.

In a crucial spell, Poto drilled over a long range penalty for ‘Gannon and straight from the restart, the hosts opened up the Greystones defence and prop Rodney Bennett took a great line to score close to the posts.

‘Stones raised their hopes of getting at least a losing bonus point with a Ferdia Kenny five-pointer, but the door was slammed shut by Poto’s third penalty success and Armstrong’s fourth try in two league games.

Thomond’s comprehensive 41-0 loss to MU Barnhall, combined with City of Derry’s losing bonus point, means the Limerick men enter November as the division’s bottom-placed club. Barnhall, on the other hand, are up to fifth after the seven-try blitz at Parsonstown. The bonus point was in the bag approaching half-time, with converted efforts from Ben McCarthy, Gareth Murray and Rob Tiernan supplementing the opener from ex-Leinster winger Darren Hudson.

There must be something about Limerick that agrees with Bective Rangers. A month on from their 49-10 thrashing of Thomond, Bective returned to Shannonside where they overhauled Old Crescent with two final quarter tries for a 22-14 win.

Indeed, the Dubliners embarked on a run of 17 unanswered points in the second half, after a penalty try (18 minutes) and a converted Kevin Meade effort (22) had Crescent in the ascendancy. The hosts fell behind when Gearoid O’Grady pinged over a penalty and converted Tom Bulfin’s 64th-minute try. The match winner arrived from Omar Dalia, converted by O’Grady, just six minutes later.