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Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

The four Division 2A fixtures over the weekend produced three away wins along with a a narrow home victory for Blackrock College who remain in contention for a top four finish.



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Corinthians 18 Nenagh Ormond 34, Corinthian Park (played on Friday)
Belfast Harlequins 7 Highfield 57, Deramore Park
Cashel 10 Banbridge 13, Spafield
Blackrock College 13 Queen’s University 8, Stradbrook

Bonus point wins for Nenagh Ormond and Highfield have the Munster pair five points clear at the top of the table, with Ulster clubs Banbridge, Malone and Queen’s University completing the top half of the table.

Nenagh had not won on the road since the opening round but they roared into a 19-3 lead at Corinthian Park thanks to a dominant set piece game. Peter O’Leary, Conor Muldoon and Eoin Gardiner all touched down with out-half Clayton Stewart adding two conversions.

Full-back O’Leary’s effort was the pick of the tries as he hit the line at pace and weaved his way over the whitewash to complete a fine back-line move. However, Corinthians hung in there and a second Simon Keller penalty was followed by a try on the stroke of half-time from former Ireland Under-20 scrum half Stephen Kerins.

With the scoreline now 19-13 and Nenagh losing Lemeki Viapula to an early yellow card in the second half, the visitors came under further pressure but they answered back in superb fashion. Following a Stewart penalty, lock Kevin Seymour finished off a well-worked try created by Stewart’s pinpoint cross-field kick to winger Willie Coffey.

Coffey was next over the try-line, cancelling out an unconverted effort from Corinthians out-half Keller. Fittingly, the try of the game brought about Nenagh’s bonus point as a fleet-footed attack from halfway saw Coffey brilliantly sidestep away from a couple of tackles and then beat the scrambling cover defence to run in a terrific solo score. Job done ahead of a scoreless final 20 minutes.

Nenagh are on the road to former table toppers Banbridge next Saturday, with Bann doing just enough to win 13-10 at Cashel in round 12. They needed two penalties from out-half Andrew Magrath in the final nine minutes to take a tight verdict.

Incredibly, it was over a year since Banbridge had won a game outside of Ulster – they also beat Cashel at Spafield in January 2016 – and they had to fight back from conceding a first-minute converted try to Cashel flanker Ed Leamy who struck after Magrath’s attempted clearance had been charged down.

Banbridge had to bide their time, with a misfiring lineout letting them down, until second row Chris Allen collected a seven-pointer just past the half hour mark. He picked up a loose ball and twisted out of a tackle to dive over from close range, following up on some good initial approach work by Adam Ervine and Adam Doherty.

Cashel scrum half Ollie McGlinchey had the final say before the break, sending a crisply-struck penalty through the uprights for a 10-7 lead. That is how it stayed as Bann failed to convert some third quarter pressure into points – a scrum penalty and a turnover proved costly in scoring range.

Nonetheless, Bann’s own defence continued to frustrate the hosts and with an increasing share of possession and territory, it was Daniel Soper’s men who kicked on for the win. Magrath booted them level and after absorbing a strong spell from Cashel, they won a 35-metre penalty which Magrath nailed for the match-winning score.

Current leaders Highfield handed bottom side Belfast Harlequins a heavy beating at Deramore Park. Luke Kingston helped himself to a hat-trick of tries in the 57-7 bonus point success, with Fintan O’Sullivan (2), Mark Dorgan, Peter Martin, Dave Kelly and Mark Murphy sharing out the other tries.

Meanwhile, Blackrock College, who visit Highfield in the next round, made it two wins in three games by overcoming Queen’s University 13-8 at Stradbrook. They outscored the students by two tries to one, gaining some revenge for November’s 27-15 loss in Belfast.