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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

It is Greystones who now have a slight advantage at the summit of Division 2B. A superior scoring difference has them just ahead of Armagh, while Wanderers, Dungannon and Old Crescent were the other winners over the weekend.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE DIVISION 2B: Saturday, March 11

ROUND 15 RESULTS –

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Bective Rangers 13 Wanderers 26, Donnybrook
City of Derry 22 Greystones 57, Judge’s Road
Dungannon 39 Thomond 10, Stevenson Park
MU Barnhall 18 Armagh 22, Parsonstown
Old Crescent 39 Skerries 15, Rosbrien

Greystones wingers Padraig Geoghegan and Jack Keating continue to terrorise defences up and down the country, their latest efforts seeing them score two tries apiece in the Co. Wicklow club’s 57-22 bonus point victory at City of Derry.

Outstanding full-back Andrew Kealy kicked all bar one conversion in the eight-try display at Judge’s Road and also scored a try and a penalty in a 22-point personal haul. Captain Bobby Clancy, Con Callan and Barry Fitzpatrick were the other try scorers for ‘Stones.

The visitors were ultra efficient and clinical in the first half, grabbing three tries and a penalty from only four visits to the Derry 22. Despite trailing 22-8, the territorially-dominant Ulstermen were competing well and produced a far better performance than they did at Dr. Hickey Park in October.

Greystones used a quick tap penalty to send Geoghegan over for the opening try, adding to Kealy’s seventh-minute penalty. Derry almost responded with a try soon after, but Neil Burns’ charge was halted by a high tackle which the out-half turned into three points.

Two quick-fire tries in and around the half hour mark saw ‘Stones coast clear on the scoreboard. The fleet-footed Keating took advantage of three missed tackle to touch down before he provided the final pass to Kealy at the end of a cracking team move.

Derry’s strength in the scrum became a factor as half-time approached. A chip through from Burns forced Greystones to concede a five-metre scrum and a series of collapses saw ‘Stones hooker Mike Lea sin-binned. Just when a penalty try looked likely, Derry decided to move the ball out to the left where full-back Jack Beattie managed to dot down and close the gap to 22-8.

Nonetheless, Kevin Lewis’ side shut the door on Derry’s comeback with two tries inside the first 12 minutes of the second half. The hosts felt that forward passes had contributed to both, but referee Karol Collins allowed the scores from prop Clancy and centre Callan to stand.

Craig Huey’s 55th-minute try for Derry, created by Ian Bratton’s brilliant run, was then cancelled out by two more tries from the Wicklow men, with replacement Fitzpatrick charging down a Jason Bloomfield kick to score and Geoghegan completing his brace via a perfectly-placed chip ahead from out-half Killian Marmion.

Second row Adam Bratton gave Derry hope of a late bonus point when he broke through for a 77th minute try, however it was Greystones who had the final say. Keating darted clear after Marmion’s interception had turned defence into attack.

A four-try first half sent Dungannon on their way to a 39-10 triumph over bottom side Thomond at Stevenson Park. They led 20-3 at the turnaround, with Seamus Mallon and Paul Armstrong combining to set up Kiwi out-half Tianua Poto for the opening try after just two minutes.

Thomond scrum half Dean Cronin was successful with the second of two penalty attempts, but ‘Gannon continued to open up the visitors’ defence as scrum half Gerard Treanor crossed in the 16th minute following a lineout maul, fit-again winger Mark Faloon went over out wide on the half hour and centre Armstrong fastened onto Treanor’s well-weighted chip ahead for the hosts’ fourth try on the stroke of half-time.

There was no let-up from the Tyrone men as they took their try haul to six by the 44th minute. Full-back Matthew Montgomery put his name to both with Armstrong nailing the conversions.

Peter Cashel joined his back-three colleagues on the scoresheet by going over in the left corner, before Thomond bounced back from their second sin-binning of the afternoon with a 77th minute try from centre Pat Ryan.

Meanwhile, Armagh had to overturn a half-time deficit when they visited an ever-improving MU Barnhall side at Parsonstown. The play-off-chasing Blue Bulls recovered from a sin-binning midway through the first half to lead 10-5 at the break.

Armagh were first on the board when winger Andrew Willis used his strength to crash over from close range. However, a yellow card for James Morton left Alex McCloy’s men shorthanded and Barnhall upped their game. Captain Simon Gillespie landed a penalty and also brilliantly knocked over a touchline conversion to add to winger Ben McCarthy’s try from a well-timed cut-out pass.

The game ebbed and flowed in the third quarter, Armagh bursting out of the blocks with a seven-pointer from the strong-running Daryl Morton inside two minutes. Barnhall, though, enjoyed most of the possession and territory as they forced the Ulster outfit onto the back foot.

Armagh showed their canny knack of soaking up pressure and then building for a score. Their forwards stepped up, driving up into scoring range and flanker James Hanna sliced through a gap to score from the edge of the 22. Out-half Harvey Young converted for a 19-10 lead.

Once again, Barnhall displayed their resilience as they strung together some promising phases, and a quick tap penalty saw Armagh scrum half Harry Doyle binned for not retreating the required distance. Gillespie’s successful penalty kick reduced the arrears to six points before Young answered back at the other end.

That proved to be Armagh’s final score as the Kildare men finished the stronger, deservedly securing a losing bonus point thanks to McCarthy’s second try which saw him capitalise on some lacklustre defending. They had Armagh under all sorts of pressure, camping on their line in the dying minutes, but McCloy’s side stood firm to make it four wins in a row.

Third-placed Wanderers were double scores winners (26-13) on the 4G surface at Donnybrook, getting the job done in the second half against Bective Rangers. The hosts, who remain second-from-bottom, had nipped into a 13-10 half-time lead thanks to a well-struck drop goal from captain Gearoid O’Grady.

Wanderers had to regroup after losing prop Diarmuid Higgins to a yellow card, but there was no denying that they were the better team during the final 40 minutes. They book-ended the second half with tries from backs Garret O Suilleabhain and Niall O’Donoghue, with two penalties sandwiched in between.

Old Crescent, who now have an eight-point cushion in fourth, took a step closer to the play-offs with a 39-15 bonus point victory over Skerries at Rosbrien. Val McDermott (2 tries) and Shane O’Brien, who kicked 14 points off the tee, made the biggest contributions for the Limerick men.

Skerries, who are still teetering above the relegation zone, gave a very good account of themselves and matched the hosts for much of this round 15 encounter. Their left winger Paul Devitt crossed for opening try, hacking a loose ball through, outpacing the cover and scoring out wide on the right.

A trademark barnstorming run from captain Ross McAuley led to the Goats’ second try in the 26th minute, the number 8 throwing a nicely-timed pass to supporting centre Colin Doyle who got clear of the final defender to touch down.

Influential out-half Billy Mulcahy converted and also added a penalty, but a terrific lineout drive from the edge of Skerries’ 22 ended with hooker Darragh O’Brien scoring Crescent’s second try which gave them an 18-15 half-time advantage.

Barely five minutes into the second half, a converted try from Cathal Monaghan extended the lead – much to the annoyance of Skerries who felt there had been a forward pass and also a slight knock-on in the build-up. Although the Dubliners forced the issue for much of the remainder, they were let down by errors in attacking situations and two late tries from McDermott and Larry Hanly gave a flattering look to the final scoreline.