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Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Nenagh Ormond’s spell at the top of Division 2A was short-lived after they lost their Munster derby to Sunday’s Well, while Banbridge reclaimed top spot with a bonus point win and Queen’s University have made it an Ulster 1-2.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE DIVISION 2A: Saturday, November 26

ROUND 8 RESULTS –

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Sunday’s Well 23 Nenagh Ormond 17, Irish Independent Park
Banbridge 33 Corinthians 10, Rifle Park
Belfast Harlequins 15 Queen’s University 32, Deramore Park
Blackrock College 18 Malone 24, Stradbrook
Cashel 6 Highfield 13, Spafield

Sunday’s Well claimed the scalp of round 7 leaders Nenagh Ormond at Irish Independent Park on Saturday, with out-half Shane O’Riordan’s 13-point kicking haul providing crucial in a memorable 23-17 win.

Nenagh looked formidable early on, their backs and forwards combining to very good effect, but the ‘Well improved with each passing minute and their best performance of the season saw them prevail in a nerve-jangling finish.

The visitors turned around at half-time with a 14-13 lead, their powerful pack using their lineout maul to force penalties and get within range for hooker Conor Muldoon to claim the game’s opening try, converted in clinical fashion by Clayton Stewart.

Out-half Stewart and centre Derek Corcoran threatened with ball in hand, continually testing the home defence with their sharp running. The ‘Well stood up admirably to the task but lost prop Chris O’Regan to the sin-bin for dragging down a Nenagh maul, the latest in a series of penalties conceded by his side.

The Corkmen shored up their defence, upping their work-rate while O’Regan was off, and it paid dividends when centre Robert O’Keeffe used his speed and strength to strike for a converted try. A penalty followed soon after from O’Riordan for 10-7, rewarding a terrific burst from winger Alex O’Neill.

The ‘Well were guilty of overplay at times, though, a forced pass leading to a turnover and Nenagh countered for their second converted try in the 33rd minute. Winger Ger O’Gorman flew forward out wide and managed to reach over the line despite a last-ditch ankle tap from O’Riordan. The latter replied with a penalty to make it a one-point game, heading into the second period.

The ‘Well made noticeable improvements to their play in the third quarter, particularly the scrum and their defensive lineout, but had not points to show for a considerable amount of pressure. Nenagh pinched vital possession at a ruck near their own line, while James Mulcahy’s inside pass to Ronan McCarthy for a well-worked ‘Well try was deemed forward.

Nenagh, who threatened on the counter, also had their chances. Winger Willie Coffey was hauled down just short of the whitewash, while a breakway effort was foiled by a successful ankle tap from O’Riordan on this occasion. The Sunday’s Well out-half was soon kicking the hosts back in front, landing a drop goal after good initial work by centres O’Keeffe and Cyprien Jouve.

The ‘Well held onto the momentum and pushed 23-14 ahead with ten minutes remaining. Maintaining a high tempo and benefiting from some excellent ball retention, they worked their way into scoring range and replacement scrum half Peter Arigho delighted the home crowd with a snipe off the back of a ruck which got him over near the left corner. A cracking conversion from O’Riordan followed.

There was no way Nenagh were going to make it easy for the ‘Well in the closing stages. Talisman Stewart fired over a penalty after inspiring a strong spell of attacking from the Tipperary side. In the dying minutes, Nenagh won a close-in penalty and opted for a scrum. A couple more penalties followed from the set piece but just as Nenagh looked set to win a penalty try, referee Chris Busby spotted a binding offence by the visitors and the ‘Well could finally celebrate.

Banbridge took advantage of Nenagh’s reversal to move back to the top following a 33-10 bonus point victory over Corinthians. They ran in five tries in foggy conditions at Rifle Park, restoring some of their early season confidence after a couple of disappointing recent outings.

Second-placed Queen’s University are really flying at the moment, their fourth straight win seeing them gain the local bragging rights against Belfast Harlequins. They had 17 points (32-15) to spare at a foggy Deramore Park, with the students bidding farewell to forwards coach Bronson Ross, who is returning home to New Zealand, in the best possible way.

Meanwhile, Malone won for the first time in three games with a well-judged 24-18 success away to Blackrock College. It was the Dubliners’ first home defeat of the season, their frustration lessened by two late tries for a losing bonus point.

The Cregagh Red Sox recovered from an early eight-point deficit to lead 14-8 at half-time, Mark O’Connor converting tries from back rowers Dave Cave (31) and Michael Shiels (34 minutes). Winger O’Connor added a 58th minute penalty and his back-three colleague Jack Owens, a former Ireland Under-20 international, broke through for the visitors’ third and final try with 12 minutes remaining.

Second row Fintan O’Sullivan crossed for the only try as Highfield maintained their presence in the top four with a 13-6 win over Cashel at Spafield. Ollie McGlinchey’s two penalties were cancelled out by a brace from Highfield captain Paddy O’Toole, before O’Sullivan emerged as the match winner in a nip-and-tuck second half.