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Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2A Review

There was an avalanche of points in Ulster Bank League Division 2A over the weekend, with an average of 58 points scored across the five games. Unbeaten leaders Malone set a new league points-scoring record for the club with a thumping 70-15 win over Galwegians.



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Blackrock College 28 City of Armagh 20, Stradbrook
Corinthians 24 Nenagh Ormond 63, Corinthian Park
Greystones 9 Highfield 22, Dr. Hickey Park
Malone 70 Galwegians 15, Gibson Park
Queen’s University 14 Cashel 25, Dub Lane

Even with top scorer Rory Campbell, Jack Owens, Dave Cave and Michael Shiels among the absentees, Malone still had far too much strength in depth for an outgunned Galwegians side at Gibson Park. The Cregagh Red Sox posted their biggest ever score in a league match, running in nine tries in all.

Paddy Armstrong’s side sprinted into a 37-5 lead for half-time, ‘Wegians making an awful start as Mark O’Connor kicked the first of his 25 points for the hosts and out-half Josh Pentland’s pacy break and pass played in Ulster Academy tighthead Peter Cooper for a fifth minute try and a 10-0 lead.

A scrum penalty was impressively drilled through the posts by winger O’Connor from 48 metres out, with David McMaster profiting from Nathan Brown’s break from the next try and O’Connor adding another penalty to open up a 23-point advantage inside 18 minutes. Lock Josh Davidson got in on the act a few minutes later, touching down after a strong run from captain Ross Todd.

Scrum half Rory Gaffney’s unconverted score got Galwegians off the mark and they had two more tries from Martin Fox and Richard Fahy in the second half, however Malone completed a stunning team performance, dominant in all facets of play and turning a succession of opportunities into tries.

Influential centres Brown and Michael Cartmill, who were part of an exciting back-line, combined for the latter to register the bonus point before the interval. Five more tries followed after the break, Matthew Dalton powering over from 30 metres out and man-of-the-match Cooper catching the eye with two terrific run-ins from 30 and 25 metres out to complete his hat-trick by the 69th minute.

Cartmill also finished with a brace and Brown deservedly got on the scoresheet with Malone’s ninth and final try. O’Connor’s excellent kicking haul of 25 points (eight conversions and three penalties) would have been enough to beat ‘Wegians on its own – he proved a more than capable deputy for Campbell, missing just one of his 12 shots at the posts.

Meanwhile, out-half Peter Quirke’s injury-time try from his own chip through saw Blackrock College gain their first win of the season. The performance and result showed what Mick Carroll’s ‘Rock side are capable of as they toppled previously-unbeaten City of Armagh on a 28-20 scoreline.

Armagh scored the game’s opening try at Stradbrook where Cormac Fox’s cross-field was collected by winger Andrew Willis for a five-pointer. However, Blackrock touched down twice, including a maul effort after Armagh lock Peter Starrett was sin-binned, to lead 15-8 at the break.

Turning around with a wind advantage, the hungry ‘Rock outfit pressed on with Quirke adding his second successful penalty. The frantic pace continued as Armagh exerted some pressure in the home 22 and a series of scrums, five metres out from the ‘Rock line, earned them a penalty try.

With a quarter of an hour remaining, Armagh edged ahead at 20-18 thanks to strong driving from the pack and hooker Andrew Smyth’s eventual touchdown which went unconverted. But a costly yellow card for Willis allowed Blackrock to bounce back, Quirke splitting the posts with the lead penalty before he stung Armagh with the decisive seven-pointer, which also took the bonus point away from the Ulstermen.

Nenagh Ormond have climbed two places up to second in the standings after running riot to defeat Corinthians 63-24 in Galway. They scored eight tries in all, including two each from wingers Ger O’Gorman and David Gleeson. The latter’s league tally now stands at four tries after four rounds.

Nenagh’s Kiwi play-maker Clayton Stewart was also in superb form at Corinthian Park, notching a breakaway try and finishing with a perfect 10-from-10 record from the tee. His try, seven conversions and three penalties took his season’s haul to 55 points. John Hayes, Jamie McGarry and Peter Coman were the other try scorers for Ivan Muldoon’s men, who have picked up 15 points in the last three weeks.

Greystones’ struggles continued on Saturday as Highfield came away from Dr. Hickey Park with a 22-9 victory and five valuable points. Tim Ryan’s charges have moved back into the top four thanks to first half tries from Ian McCarthy, captain Miah Cronin and Paddy Ryan, along with a 75th-minute clincher from Robert McGuire.

Cashel made it two wins out of two for the Tipperary clubs in the division, putting together a superior second half to emerge as 25-14 victors at Dub Lane. Queen’s University blew a 14-6 lead as Denis Leamy’s side strung together three tries in a potent 10-minute spell.

Queen’s well-drilled defence finally gave way on the hour mark when Richard Moran stole a lineout 30 metres out, charged through and offloaded for his back row colleague Michael Casey to barge over for a seven-pointer. Left winger Richard Kingston then touched down for the third week in a row, finishing off a free-flowing attack that began with replacement Peter Bilbao’s brilliant break from inside Cashel’s half.

Now leading 18-14, Cashel’s tails were up and with the pressure piling on, a Queen’s lineout saw the ball go loose for hooker Niall Fitzgerald to pounce for the visitors’ clinching try, with Darragh Lyons’ conversion completing his 10-point haul. The Belfast students had enough time to hit back – 10 minutes in all – but Kingston and Bilbao, who was sin-binned late on, both showed their defensive capabilities to deny them tries.