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Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Nenagh Ormond and Blackrock College made the most significant gains in Division 2A on Saturday, with Nenagh beating Banbridge 25-5 to join the County Down club on 21 points at the top of the table.



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Blackrock College 29 Highfield 21, Stradbrook
Belfast Harlequins 14 Cashel 22, Deramore Park
Nenagh Ormond 25 Banbridge 5, New Ormond Park
Corinthians 46 Malone 3, Corinthian Park

Leaders Banbridge lost their unbeaten record and were brought crashing down to earth by a 20-point defeat at New Ormond Park. Nenagh maintained a high level of accuracy and concentration throughout, avoiding the lapses that saw them suffer a late loss at Malone last week.

Bann were behind within seven minutes, man-of-the-match Derek Corcoran breaking from his centre berth and Peter O’Leary made ground up the right wing to send prop John Coffey over for the opening try.

Nenagh added their second on the quarter hour, full-back Eathon Moloney showing great pace on a break and quick recycling allowed O’Leary to feed his half-back partner Clayton Stewart whose terrific skip pass put flanker John O’Flaherty over in the corner.

A breakaway score got the wind-backed Ulstermen off the mark, but despite centre Willie O’Connor’s sin-binning for a high tackle, the Tipperary men ran in their third unconverted effort on the stroke of half-time. Cronan Gleeson joined fellow prop Coffey on the scoresheet, finishing one-handed in the corner after another superb run by the influential Corcoran.

Trailing 15-5, Banbridge fared better in the third quarter. Their attempts to open up Nenagh out wide were in vain, though, and with the Nenagh scrum very much on top, Stewart used the breeze well to thump over a penalty from inside the hosts’ half.

Nenagh’s fiercely committed defence continued to frustrate the table toppers and the cherry on top for Mike Kennedy’s charges was their 77th minute bonus point score. Stewart and O’Connor gained momentum through midfield and after possession was recycled close to the Bann whitewash, impressive loosehead Gleeson did really well to gather a looping pass and set up lock Kevin O’Flaherty for the touchdown which Stewart converted.

Bann will have to lick their wounds before facing Tipperary opposition again next Saturday, as Cashel make a return trip north on the back of a well-judged 22-14 win at Belfast Harlequins.

It was the visitors’ forward power that set the tone early on at Deramore Park, Cashel leading 7-0 thanks to a penalty try won by their advancing scrum. Harlequins profited from a Cashel yellow card, though, as centre Christian Bennison broke onto a kick through to ground the ball and bring his side level for half-time.

Turning around with the wind at their backs, Cashel retook the lead after ‘Quins lock Matt McKelvey was binned for collapsing a maul. Sean Walsh duly crossed and scrum half Ollie McGlinchey converted again before tagging on a penalty for 17-7.

Although the hosts hit back when out-half Tim Emerson’s great line of running saw him splinter the Cashel defence for a well-taken seven-pointer, it was not to be their day as Cashel centre Adam O’Loughlin made it over for their third try late on. Cashel have now moved four points clear of ‘Quins at the foot of the table, with Emerson missing a late penalty for a losing bonus point.

Meanwhile, with Queen’s University and Sunday’s Well both idle after playing their round 6 fixture a couple of weeks ago, Blackrock College and Corinthians both profited as victories moved them up to third and sixth respectively.

Blackrock ran out 29-21 bonus point winners at home to Highfield, ending the Corkmen’s five-match unbeaten run in the process. First half tries from centre David Scott-Lennon, scrum half Davy Rowan and flanker Dave Fortune set them on their way. A Paddy O’Toole try and penalty for the visitors had the gap down to five points, but a late Peter Quirke penalty settled the issue.

‘Rock will be without tighthead Dino Waldren for next couple of weeks as he has earned a call-up to the USA squad and could make his Test debut against either Romania (November 12) or Tonga (November 19). The 25-year-old Californian came over to Ireland this season to boost his playing experience.

In an evening kick-off in Galway, Corinthians tore Malone apart in a resounding 46-3 bonus point success. It was clear from number 8 Lise Soloa’s third-minute try that Corinthians were keen to make up for last week’s 30-point hammering away to Queen’s.

Ene Fa’atau’s men led 15-3 by half-time, Shane Kelly and Jack Feeney trading penalties before Corinthians flanker Pat O’Toole plucked down a cross-field kick and brilliantly beat the covering winger to score in the corner.

Even better followed for the hosts in a one-sided second half. Full-back Feeney sent over two crisply-struck penalties in the early stages, before a Colin Joyce try and Feeney drop goal made it 29-3. The bonus point was secured by the first of two back-to-back converted tries from classy centre and captain David Panter, and the excellent Feeney completed his 21-point haul with a late penalty.