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Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Review

There was a unique set of results in Ulster Bank League Division 2C on Saturday with all five away teams triumphing and five points being the biggest winning margin.



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Boyne 13 Sligo 15, Shamrock Lodge
Bruff 12 Tullamore 15, Kilballyowen Park
Kanturk 12 Bangor 17, Knocknacolan
Midleton 17 Seapoint 19, Towns Park
Rainey Old Boys 13 Navan 17, Hatrick Park

Sligo secured their third win in four league games with a hard-fought 15-13 success at Boyne. This very entertaining tussle saw Ross Mannion’s men – conquerors of leaders Rainey Old Boys last week – march into a 12-point lead after as many minutes.

There were just two minutes on the clock when Boyne gave away turnover ball and were left stunned when Sligo took them through a number of phases and out-half Mike Wells nipped in for a converted try.

The visitors pounced on another Boyne mistake for their second score, a pass going to ground and Sligo hacking downfield and retrieving possession for scrum half Ryan Feehily to finish off a breakaway five-pointer.

However, the Drogheda side, whose own number 9 Nicky Smith was in man-of-the-match form, recovered well to trail by just two points (12-10) at half-time. After Niall Kerbey’s opening penalty and a missed Sligo try-scoring chance due to a forward pass, Boyne out-half Kerbey was off target with two more kicks that he would usually convert.

It was full-back Eoghan Duffy who inspired the hosts’ first try, carving open the Sligo defence with a terrific run from deep and with possession retained, centre Brian Howell supplied the finishing touches with Kerbey expertly splitting the posts from the touchline.

Boyne’s play was still error-strewn, though, with Kerbey missing another kickable penalty, second row Afioae Maiava seeing yellow for a high tackle and a couple of handling errors blighting early second half attacks inspired by back rower Cian Smith and Howell.

It was end-to-end stuff with Sligo, having been denied by a forward pass again, managing to turn defence into attack to set up a brilliant penalty strike by full-back Conor Kerins. That kick ultimately proved crucial, Boyne’s high error count continuing to frustrate them and a Kerbey penalty success, following another dash downfield by Duffy, was their final score.

Having picked up a losing bonus point, Boyne will hope for a better return against local rivals Navan next Friday night. However, Alan Kingsley’s charges are on a real high at the moment as they chase their fourth victory on the trot.

Second-placed Navan really showed their promotion potential when winning their top of the table clash with Rainey, 17-13, to cut the Magherafelt club’s lead at the summit to two points. Second half penalties from Declan Bannon and Brian Haugh and a clinching drop goal from Ray Moloney swung the tie in their favour. Recent signing Bannon switched to out-half and the move paid dividends with a man-of-the-match performance.

Rainey’s second successive defeat has allowed top four sides Tullamore and Bangor to draw within touching distance. Tullamore, in third, were made to work hard for a 15-12 win in a scrappy contest at struggling Bruff.

The County Offaly club avenged last season’s two losses to Bruff, although the hosts looked the more likely winners in the first quarter at Kilballyowen Park. They had Tullamore on the back foot but were unable to fully convert their pressure into points.

An unconverted maul try from Brendan Keogh had the division’s bottom side in front at half-time – 5-0 – but Tullamore would have been pleased with that scoreline as they did fall foul of referee Adrian Reavey’s whistle at the breakdown, losing both Aidan Wynne and Darragh Lowry to yellow cards.

There were obvious improvements to Tullamore’s game on the resumption, their attack finally causing Bruff some problems. Scrum half Aaron Deverell’s deft chip kick bounced nicely for him to grab a momentum-building unconverted try. It was level-pegging until Karl Dunne made an immediate impact off the visitors’ bench, drilling a fantastic 61st minute penalty over from halfway.

However, Bruff capitalised on a series of Tullamore errors straight from the restart. The visitors failed to collect the restart, were turned over at scrum time and a few missed tackles allowed Bruff’s talismanic out-half Tony Cahill through for a seven-pointer at the posts.

It was a cheap score for Tullamore to give away, but they knuckled down again and a free-flowing attack, which swept from wing to wing, ended with Wynne’s centre partner Conor Dunne crossing to put the Leinster men back in front. His brother Karl landed a textbook touchline conversion for a three-point cushion, and Tullamore took the pace out the game in the closing ten minutes, their maul growing in influence with second row Ivor Deverell doing some great work at the coalface.

Bangor made it four wins in six league outings since their promotion, defeating hosts Kanturk 17-12 in a lively clash at Knocknacolan. Youngster Ciaran Boyce crossed in the corner for an 11th minute ‘Turks try, the visitors having lost winger Ross McCloskey to an early sin-binning.

As expected, high-flying Bangor enjoyed most of the possession and territory as they played up the slope. Their execution was poor, combined with Kanturk’s effective rucking, and they had to bide their time until bagging a 28th minute penalty try, awarded after lock Craig Burton was obstructed just as he was about to score from his own charge-down.

Mark Widdowson converted but it remained 7-5 up to half-time as Kanturk scrapped furiously in defence to negate two sin-binnings. The Corkmen had some decent pressure early in the second period, but on the hour mark, Bangor flanker Jamie Clegg (pictured below) flew through a gap to touch down by the posts.

A third Kanturk yellow card preceded a Widdowson penalty with 15 minutes left, although Kanturk used turnover ball five minutes later to create a try in the corner from Kieran Downey. Conor Cremin converted with impressive accuracy for a 17-12 scoreline and a grandstand finish.

Bangor came under further pressure after goal-kicking winger Widdowson saw yellow for a tackle offence. Nonetheless, Jason Morgan’s men managed to repel Kanturk’s attacks in the dying minutes, getting a ruck decision for a penalty in the last play as theey kept pace with the clubs above them.

Tries from flanker Zac Jungmann (2) and replacement Sean O’Connor helped Seapoint to end their two-match losing streak, with club legend Brian Keegan back in the number 10 jersey. They squeezed past Midleton on a 19-17 scoreline at Towns Park, the hosts’ three tries coming from Ross O’Mahoney, Louis Farnham and Diarmuid ‘The Rock’ O’Sullivan (pictured below with Keegan).