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Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Review

Much-needed home wins for Midleton and Seapoint have moved them clear of the relegation zone in Division 2C, while four points remains the gap at the top with Navan and Sligo both maintaining their bonus point-winning form.



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Bangor 10 Tullamore 22, Upritchard Park
Midleton 30 Boyne 10, Towns Park
Navan 41 Kanturk 0, Balreask Old
Seapoint 23 Rainey Old Boys 11, Kilbogget Park
Sligo 32 Bruff 5, Hamilton Park

Navan continued their impressive march towards a possible Division 2C title and promotion with a five-try 41-0 victory over second-from-bottom Kanturk at Balreask Old last Saturday.

The hosts’ pace and accurate passing, combined with a dominant scrum, saw then overrun the Corkmen. Bustling South African centre Riaan van der Vyver helped himself to a hat-trick of tries and Bryan McKeever and Sean Vodden also touched down, while out-half Declan Bannon contributing 16 points off the tee.

Ben Martin’s ‘Turks, who trailed 20-0 at half-time, tried gamely to get off the mark but they could not turn some sustained second half pressure into points. They remain six points off the bottom with four matches left to play.

Navan are on a collision course with second-placed Sligo with the pair set to meet in a likely winner-takes-clash on April 15. Ross Mannion’s young side made it eight wins on the bounce with a 32-5 bonus point success at home to Bruff.

Bruff’s momentum has stalled in recent weeks with back-to-back defeats to the top two, Graham Whelan’s 63rd-minute try being the only shot they fired in sunny conditions at Hamilton Park.

Tries from Calum Goddard (21 minutes), Conor Kerins (28) and Shane O’Hehir (39) saw Sligo push 20 points clear, with the visitors just knocking on near the try-line before the half-time whistle was blown.

Whelan’s unconverted effort, following some precise passing out to the right, gave Bruff a foothold, however Sligo pocketed the bonus point in the 78th minute when out-half Michael Wells went over, using the platform of a scrum some 15 metres out.

A closing fifth try, which spanned 70 metres and was finished by Wells, added some further gloss to the scoreline on a memorable weekend for the Strandhill club. Sligo’s development team won the Connacht Junior League Division 1B title on Sunday thanks to a comprehensive 51-0 victory over Loughrea.

Meanwhile, Seapoint’s spring revival continued with a tremendous 23-11 dismissal of former leaders Rainey Old Boys. It was a third successive home win for Eric Miller’s charges who have moved above Bangor into seventh place in the table.

The south Dubliners, who scored 15 second half points, were good value for their third try-scoring bonus point of the campaign, with Rainey dogged again by injuries and also an unreliable lineout. The visitors had a late consolation try from centre Damien McMurray.

‘Point back rowers Zac Jungmann and Michael Kerr both impressed with ball in hand, while hooker Cian Cunningham led a fine collective set piece effort and centres Mark Rogers and Gavin Hayes combined well in defence and attack.

There was joy at last for Midleton as they ended their five-match losing run with a 30-10 bonus point triumph at home to Boyne. A tight first half ended 5-3 in the Red Devils’ favour and they finished with four tries in the end, a brace from Ross O’Mahony and one each from Daniel Murray and Robert Smyth.

Tullamore had to wait a long time to get last month’s 13-10 defeat to Bruff out of their system, but they made a winning return to league action by overcoming hosts Bangor 22-10 at Upritchard Park.

A determined first half display saw the Co. Offaly outfit take a 15-0 interval in damp underfoot conditions. A defence-dominated opening period meant it took a while for the deadlock to be broken and it was Tullamore prop Ger Molloy who peeled off a ruck and bundled his way over the try-line.

Full-back Karl Dunne converted the try and also nailed a long range penalty which came after a prolonged attacking spell by Bangor. The hosts had no points to show for it as the usually reliable Mark Widdowson endured two penalty misses.

Bangor’s scrum had been going well but they picked the wrong time to switch off just on half-time. They were shunted off their own set piece ball, five metres out, and Tullamore number 8 Kevin Browne gathered the ball at his feet to claim an opportunist try which went unconverted.

Returning Ulster ‘A’ centre Lewis Sampson and David Bradford, who packed down at number 8, were both a whisker away from scoring tries for Bangor in the third quarter. Bradford went agonisingly close, just knocking on as he dived for the line under pressure from the cover defence.

The Seasiders finally opened their account in the 57th minute, loosehead and captain Phil Whyte getting over for a five-pointer from close range. However, loose passing and turnovers lifted the subsequent pressure on Tullamore and allowed them to clear the danger through half-backs Aidan Wynne and Aaron Deverell.

Those errors were killing Bangor and perhaps summing up their day, a loose pass on halfway was intercepted by Tullamore’s Tom Gilligan and he had the gas to race away and score the visitors’ third and final try. The home side did have the final say, winger Widdowson exploiting some space out wide to touch down in the 80th minute after his team-mates had moved the ball quickly from a five-metre penalty.