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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Old Crescent and Skerries both claimed wins in Ulster to stay within range of Division 2B pacesetters Wanderers, whose unblemished form continued with a 42-26 bonus point victory over Sunday’s Well on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE DIVISION 2B: Saturday, September 30

ROUND 3 RESULTS –

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Belfast Harlequins 7 Rainey Old Boys 23, Deramore Park
City of Derry 25 Skerries 38, Craig Thompson Stadium, Judge’s Road
Dungannon 5 Old Crescent 36, Stevenson Park
MU Barnhall 21 Navan 15, Parsonstown
Wanderers 42 Sunday’s Well 26, Aviva Stadium back pitch

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.

Full-back Garret O Suilleabhain top-scored with 17 points, including a first half try, as Wanderers swept Sunday’s Well aside at headquarters. The home side scored six tries in all, but the ‘Well fought tooth and nail for a bonus point courtesy of Josh Featherstone’s late try.

It looked like a long afternoon ahead for the Corkmen when Wanderers flew into a 21-0 after just 15 minutes’ play. Their high-tempo play, fast rucks and accurate wide passing stretched the defence for tries from number 8 Paddy Mallon, winger Neil Hanratty, who followed up on Conor McQuaid’s sniping run, and out-half Peter Brougham who scored following a splendid offload from Eoin O’Shaughnessy.

Sunday’s Well had their moments in attack, earning three penalties in the hosts’ 22 with their scrum and lineout going well, but Mallon used McQuaid’s turnover to register Wanderers’ bonus point and another potent counter-attack led to centre Joe Holland touching down.

Prop Francis Moynihan got the ‘Well off the mark on the stroke of half-time, scoring from a lineout maul to make it 31-5, and they brought that momentum into the second half with a second maul try from hooker John Moynihan. Eoin Hurley’s move from the wing to centre also paid dividends, his powerful and pacy run leading to Darren Loftus scoring in the corner. Shane O’Riordan converted for a 31-19 scoreline.

Just when it seemed like the ‘Well were getting back in touch, Wanderers used a contentious penalty to set up position in the 22. The pressure told as O Suilleabhain notched their sixth try and then tagged on two well-struck penalties to make sure of the win. Peter Scott’s charges battled right to the end, picking up a deserved bonus point thanks to centre Featherstone’s try, with Hurley prominent again in the build-up.

Rainey Old Boys claimed their second away win when they took the Ulster derby spoils against Belfast Harlequins. Rainey’s handling and decision-making let them down in pursuit of the bonus point but the 23-7 margin was a fair reflection of the contest.

Harlequins, who have now lost their first three games, were only 12-7 in arrears at half-time. In sunny conditions at Deramore Park, Rainey were caught napping when the hosts fielded a high ball and scrum half Conor McAuley sprinted along the touchline and fed centre Mark Gribben to score at the posts.

Either side of that try, Rainey picked off two scores with scrum half Jason Bloomfield nipping through a gap in the tenth minute after they had moved the ball at pace from a scrum, while South African hooker Brad Roberts broke from a late lineout on halfway and had the awareness when tackled to give an offload which put replacement John McCusker over in the corner.

A brace of penalties from Rainey out-half Andrew Magrath kept the scoreboard moving in the right direction, before the visitors’ best passage of play earned them a third try in the 52nd minute. They put width on the ball via a scrum in their own 22, setting up another scrum deep in ‘Quins territory and after the forwards carried hard for a few phases, prop Stephen Rutledge plunged over having spotted a gap in the defence.

That proved to be the final try of the encounter, Rainey continuing to create chances but not put them away. Centre Jody McMurray broke and hacked on but lacked support in the ‘Quins 22, and number 8 Peter Stewart powered off the back of a scrum to initiate a promising attack – one of a number in the closing stages which failed to yield that elusive fourth try.

Second-placed Old Crescent warmed up for their top of the table clash with Wanderers by handing Dungannon a heavy 36-5 beating at Stevenson Park. Number 8 and player-coach Brendan Guilfoyle helped himself to a hat-trick of tries, with backs coach Brian Tuohy scoring twice from full-back.

A penalty from a lineout moved Crescent into scoring range and Guilfoyle duly delivered the opening try, 12 minutes in. They held onto their seven-point lead during scrum half Gary Fitzgerald’s sin-binning, with his opposite number John Russell having a try disallowed for Dungannon.

The Co. Tyrone outfit used another maul to score on the half hour mark with Malcolm Allister making it a two-point game. However, Crescent hit back with two tries either side of Dugannon winger Andrew McPhillips’ yellow card for a dangerous tackle. Tuohy and Guilfoyle were the scorers with Ronan McKenna’s two conversions extending the lead to 19-5 at the turnaround.

The second half was only two minutes’ old when Guilfoyle, the former Munster underage player, pocketed the bonus point for his side, and Tuohy used a counter attack just three minutes later to complete his double. The intensity and pace slackened off in the final quarter, with Dungannon, who were slipping to their second home loss, unable to respond and Crescent’s replacement hooker Niall Hardiman crossing the whitewash in the 70th minute.

Meanwhile, MU Barnhall got back to winning ways in a well-contested Leinster derby at Parsonstown. The strong impact of the bench, including impressive Under-20 scrum half Adam Chester and stalwart lock Sam Hall, was evident in their 21-15 victory over Navan. The Blue Bulls had a try each from hard-working wingers Luke Mellett and Conor Lacey along with a penalty try.

Skerries’ trip north to Magherafelt was a fruitful one as they got the better of City of Derry on a 38-25 scoreline. They scored six tries in all, three of them coming from the Marrey brothers, Conn and Cormac (2). Captain Mikey Sherlock impressed as the visitors’ man-of-the-match.

There was not much between the teams at half-time, Derry trailing 15-11 with winger Killene Thornton scoring a terrific team try and Neil Burns booting two penalties. Sherlock was involved in the build-up to both of Skerries’ first half tries, which were scored by the two Marreys and supplemented by five points from Billy Mulcahy’s boot.

Turning around with the elements in their favour, the Goats pushed on thanks to Mulcahy’s 42nd-minute penalty, and a powerful maul, eight minutes later, ended with hooker Chris Tonge crashing over to open up a 12-point advantage.

However, Skerries replacement Mark Nally saw yellow for holding Tyler Rogers-Holden back as the New Zealander took a quick tap. Derry duly took advantage to run in their second try, the fast-breaking Rogers-Holden, who threw an outrageous dummy, combining with his half-back partner Burns to send centre Paddy Blennerhassett in under the posts with 60 minutes on the clock.

Tonge’s second score of this entertaining tie was followed by another Derry score inspired by Rogers-Holden. The scrum half’s quick thinking from a close range penalty saw him feed captain David Ferguson and he showed impressive strength to barge his way over despite the presence of three defenders on the line. Burns converted to cut Skerries’ lead to 28-25 with 13 minutes remaining.

It was all hands to the pump for Skerries who had another player in the bin. Crucially, the Dubliners were next to score, Paul Devitt causing some damage with an incisive run before fellow winger Maurice McAuley was able to finish smartly for a 73rd minute try wide on the right.

Skipper Sherlock stepped up to put the result beyond any doubt, his superb swerving break from inside his own 22 setting up a gilt-edged opportunity for Skerries and loosehead Cormac Marrey took it, his second try of the afternoon wrapping up the Goats’ second bonus point success of the season in Ulster.

Photos:

Wanderers v Sunday’s Well – Perfectlight/Voicu Duma
Belfast Harlequins v Rainey Old Boys – Charles Henderson Photography
City of Derry v Skerries – Desmond Loughery Photography