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Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

New leaders City of Armagh have pushed ahead of Malone, the only other unbeaten team in Division 2A table, thanks to their superior scoring difference. Queen’s University make it an Ulster 1-2-3, with Nenagh Ormond and Galwegians also on the rise.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE DIVISION 2A: Saturday, September 30

ROUND 3 RESULTS –

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Cashel 16 Malone 18, Spafield
City of Armagh 42 Corinthians 18, Palace Grounds
Galwegians 26 Blackrock College 22, Crowley Park
Highfield 14 Queen’s University 16, Woodleigh Park
Nenagh Ormond 28 Greystones 19, New Ormond Park

This season sees the introduction of the #UBLTry of the Month award with a prize of 250 euro for each monthly winner and entry into the Try of the Year award.

Rory Campbell took on the mantle of match winner again for Malone as his penalty in the fifth minute of injury-time guided them to an 18-16 win away to Cashel. Spafield is a very tough place to get a result and the Cregagh Red Sox overcame injuries and two yellow cards to prevail right at the death.

Campbell, the goal-kicking winger who did all the scoring against Highfield last week, chipped in with another 13 points in Tipperary to take his season’s haul to 44 points already. He converted centre Michael Cartmill’s seventh-minute try to get Malone off the mark.

The visitors held an early lead despite losing hooker Dave Cave to a nasty hamstring injury and struggling to hold their own at set piece time. 12 points was the margin after Campbell notched his third try in two games, but Cashel clawed it back to 12-8 for half-time.

Denis Leamy’s men mustered tries in each half from hooker Niall Fitzgerald and winger Richard Kingston, with Eamonn Connolly and Darragh Lyons landing a penalty apiece. The forward exchanges were not for the faint-hearted as Cashel’s beefy pack took the game to the Belfast side.

Malone lost a third player to injury, scrum half Shane Kelly joining front rowers Cave and Peter Cooper on the touchline, but a 50th minute penalty from Campbell made it 15-8. Cashel hit back with a second unconverted score, taking advantage of back-to-back sin-binnings for Malone’s Jack Owens and Ben Halliday.

This fast-paced encounter appeared to be slipping away from Malone when Campbell sent a penalty wide and with Cashel heaping pressure on the visitors’ defence, Lyons’ 79th-minute penalty had the home side ahead for the first time. Unfortunately for the vocal home support, Campbell had one more opportunity off the tee and he took it, rewarding the likes of captain Ross Todd and Ulster Academy forwards Joe Dunleavy and Matthew Dalton for their tireless efforts up front.

Meanwhile, City of Armagh turned the tables on Corinthians in the second half to run out 42-18 winners over the well-drilled westerners. Scrum half Jack Feeney kicked two closing penalties, adding to Kiwi flanker Isaac O’Connor’s early try from a maul, to give the Galway outfit a 13-10 half-time lead at the Palace Grounds.

The sunny conditions encouraged both sides to play fast, free-flowing rugby and although Cormac Fox’s penalty opened the hosts’ account, they were forced to defend for long periods and had second row Peter Starrett sin-binned.

Armagh responded with a well-worked 37th-minute try, Andrew Willis breaking a tackle and passing for his back-three colleague, Ryan Purvis, to score by the posts. Fox converted before Feeney nailed two late penalties to nudge Ene Fa’atau’s charges back in front (13-10).

However, Corinthians faltered after the break as Armagh stung them with 20 unanswered points, including tries from Willis and Starrett. Fox, one of the best young out-halves outside of the top flight, tagged on two penalties and two conversions for a 30-13 turnaround.

Corinthians rallied with a second try from the industrious O’Connor, but hooker Andrew Smyth bagged a smashing bonus point score for Willie Faloon’s side and former Ulster flanker Ali Birch completed a tremendous second half from Armagh with their fifth and final try.

Ex-Connacht centre Brian Murphy crossed in deepest injury-time to guide Galwegians past fast-finishing Blackrock College. ‘Wegians admittedly got out of jail thanks to Murphy’s last-gasp effort, which Morgan Codyre converted to seal a 26-22 success at Crowley Park.

A dominant scrum helped the home side carve out a 11-3 interval lead, young number 10 Codyre landing two penalties and lock Marty Cummins winning an 18th minute lineout to charge over for a try. ‘Wegians should have been further in front as Blackrock had a prop yellow carded following a fourth scrum penalty.

A charge-down led to Murphy scoring a 41st minute try and the win looked to be well within the Galway club’s grasp when Codyre rewarded a powerful scrum shove with three more points for a 19-3 scoreline. Turnovers were often an issue for ‘Wegians, though, and centre Steve Lawton’s second try in as many games lifted Blackrock in the 62nd minute.

Replacement Eoin Fanning followed up five minutes later with his second try of the campaign, and would have had another but for a forward pass. ‘Rock’s third try did arrive on the 80-minute mark, right winger Mark Prendergast’s brilliant solo score from halfway being converted by Peter Quirke for a sudden 22-19 lead.

A shell-shocked ‘Wegians still had a few minutes to recover as there was plenty of injury-time. Rescuing the win for his side, the 31-year-old Murphy sniped over from close range to keep Brian McClearn’s men on the winning trail. They are now up to fifth in the table, with Mick Carroll’s ‘Rock still on the bottom rung.

Two teams who will clash in round 4 both lost last Saturday afternoon, two-try Highfield suffering an extremely rare reversal at home to Queen’s University (16-14) whose crucial try came from number 8 Gary Dillon, while it is three defeats on the trot for last season’s Division 2B champions Greystones. The Wicklow men went down 28-19 at Nenagh Ormond.

New Zealander Clayton Stewart’s breakaway try put Nenagh on the road to a significant 21-5 half-time lead, with centres Peter Coman and Derek Corcoran also crossing in the first 20 minutes. Andrew Kealy and Bobby Clancy took the visitors’ try tally to three in the second half, adding to Andy Roberts’ earlier effort, but winger David Gleeson’s bonus point try gave Nenagh enough of a cushion.

Photos:

City of Armagh v Corinthians – Ken Redpath/City of Derry RFC
Cashel v Malone – Richard Owens/Malone RFC