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Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Review

Navan and Kanturk were the main movers in Ulster Bank League Division 2C over the weekend, the Meath men taking over at the summit from pre-Christmas leaders Rainey and Ben Martin’s ‘Turks winning away to relegation rivals Boyne.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE DIVISION 2C: Saturday, January 21

ROUND 10 RESULTS –

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Bangor 16 Sligo 22, Upritchard Park
Boyne 7 Kanturk 19, Shamrock Lodge
Midleton 7 Tullamore 25, Towns Park
Rainey Old Boys 20 Bruff 17, Hatrick Park
Seapoint 10 Navan 42, Kilbogget Park

Navan are the new leaders of the division, joining Rainey Old Boys on 36 points after coming away from Kilbogget Park with a 42-10 bonus point win over struggling Seapoint.

Out-half Declan Bannon’s assured place-kicking saw Navan establish early control of the scoreboard. He kicked three penalties and converted Roy Maloney’s try from a terrific team move to give the visitors a 16-3 advantage at half-time.

Bryan McKeever crossed soon after the resumption and Alan Kingsley’s in-form side outscored Seapoint by three tries to one over the remainder to pocket their fifth try-scoring bonus point of the campaign.

Meanwhile, having lost 15-11 at Kilballyowen Park before Christmas, Rainey returned the favour with a tense 20-17 defeat of Bruff which owed much to Scott McLean’s excellent place-kicking.

The young full-back coolly landed a 70th minute penalty to split the sides and complete his 10-point haul. South African hooker George Fritz crossed for two tries, the first of them coming early on as the Rainey forwards quickly set out their stall.

However, impressive game management from Bruff combined with Rainey errors saw the Limerick men seize control. Tony Cahill knocked over two settling penalties and then with Rainey lock Tim Barker binned for a maul infringement five metres out, scrum possession allowed talented half-back Cahill to strike for a close range unconverted try.

Cahill and McLean swapped penalties to leave Bruff 14-10 ahead at the turnaround, Rainey still struggling with their discipline but going close to a second try through Ricky Andrew after a superb charge through the middle by prop Aidan McSwiggan.

Rainey boss John Andrews’ half-time words did the trick as Fritz was soon barrelling over for his second try of the afternoon, again converted by McLean to make it 17-14. Despite that second yellow card and a levelling penalty from Cahill, the Magherafelt club prevailed thanks to McLean’s clinching penalty and their superior scrum.

Sligo remain within reach of top spot following a hard-fought 22-16 win away to Bangor. This was a much tighter contest that the one at Hamilton Park in early December when Ross Mannion’s men put 51 points on the Seasiders.

Player-coach Jason Morgan opened the scoring for Bangor just two minutes into the return fixture, stepping inside the visitors’ defence to run in an unconverted try 15 metres in from the left touchline.

Bangor were playing into a stiffening breeze and their 5-0 lead was erased in the 27th minute with a well-taken try from Sligo’s influential young scrum half Ryan Feehily. A solid scrum platform, five metres out, gave him the chance to nip over with full-back Jack Keegan converting for a 7-5 half-time scoreline.

Sligo’s forwards turned up the heat with an excellent maul try just two minutes into the second period. Hooker Shane O’Hehir got the touchdown and a subsequent penalty, straight in front of the posts, was fired over by Keegan to open up a 15-5 gap.

However, Sligo began to leak penalties of their own as the third quarter progressed. Mark Widdowson mopped up with three points and winger Davy Charles marked his return from an eight-month absence by reaching over in the right corner via a well-executed attack.

Although Widdowson missed the difficult conversion from out wide, the goal-kicking centre was back on target with a 70th minute penalty that edged the hosts into a 16-15 lead.

It was all hands to the pump as Bangor defended stoutly in the closing stages, but they faltered at just the wrong moment when losing possession in their 22. Man-of-the-match Feehily broke from a ruck to avoid three would-be tacklers and complete his brace by the right hand post. Keegan’s conversion was the final act of this fiercely competitive game, the result keeping Sligo in third place and the losing bonus point moving Bangor back up to fifth.

Player-coach Ben Martin was the game’s dominant figure, kicking 14 points as his Kanturk team triumphed 19-7 at Boyne. The Corkmen won 24-13 at home last month and out-half Martin was in match-winning form once again.

He landed three well-struck penalties, including one from halfway, to give the ‘Turks a 9-0 buffer at the break with their defence preventing Boyne from building any real momentum.

Martin’s opposite number Niall Kerbey saw yellow for a high tackle and while he was off, Boyne winger Adam Brodigan miscued a penalty attempt early in the second period. However, Kerbey returned to run in a morale-boosting seven-pointer following a Boyne scrum for accidental offside.

Crucially, Boyne failed to add to their tally during their best spell of the match with a crooked lineout, in particular, letting them down. Martin got the visitors back on track with his fourth successful penalty and it was his blindside run and tremendous reverse pass that played in winger Olan Daly, who also touched down in the December 3 game, for a closing try.

Down south at Towns Park, Tullamore made it back-to-back wins against Midleton by taking a 25-7 verdict which sees the Cork club drop out of the top half of the table.

Fourth-placed Tullamore, who are just four points off the summit, trailed 7-6 at half-time with Midleton scoring a penalty try. But the County Offaly outfit turned the tables in the second period with tries from Kevin Browne, Darragh Lowry and Brian Gilligan. Full-back Karl Dunne added two conversions to his earlier brace of penalties.