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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Old Crescent, who have extended their unbeaten run to five matches, Navan and Rainey Old Boys all won away from home as Division 2B resumes with games in both Ulster and Leinster. Bottom side Belfast Harlequins ended their losing streak and picked up two valuable points in a 22-all draw with MU Barnhall.



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Belfast Harlequins 22 MU Barnhall 22, Deramore Park
City of Derry 21 Old Crescent 54, Craig Thompson Stadium, Judge’s Road
Dungannon 10 Rainey Old Boys 27, Stevenson Park
Skerries 22 Sunday’s Well 7, Holmpatrick
Wanderers 13 Navan 17, Aviva Stadium back pitch

Leaders Old Crescent scored a half-century of points for the first time this season with a ruthless 54-21 routing of City of Derry at Craig Thompson Stadium. Former Connacht winger Brian Tuohy and Larry Hanly notched two tries each, with Ronan McKenna, Gary Fitzgerald, Jack O’Neill and Val McDermott also dotting down.

Ex-Shannon out-half McKenna landed all bar one conversion to finish with an excellent 19-point haul which earned him the man-of-the-match award. Crescent were 26-7 to the good at half-time, Cian Reale’s 14th-minute charge-down and pass setting up Fitzgerald for the opening try, and the latter was followed over the whitewash by Tuohy (22 minutes), O’Neill (28) and Hanly (36).

Simon Logue opened Derry’s account on the half hour mark and they added two more tries in the second half, but there was no knocking Crescent off their stride. Trevor Will’s side will regroup for next week’s trip to Navan before hosting Rainey Old Boys in a November 10 Derry derby.

John Andrews’ Rainey ran out convincing 27-10 bonus point winners of their mid-Ulster tie with Dungannon on Saturday. They came away from a windy Stevenson Park with five well-earned points, aided by the two-try contribution of Andrew Harbinson off the bench.

Winless in the last two rounds, Dungannon had a very strong wind at their backs in a fast-paced and tightly-contested opening half. The were unable to convert their first scoring chance, 18 minutes in, as Chris Swash sent a penalty wide after a strong run from his centre partner Paul Armstrong.

It was nip and tuck up to interval with Swash opening the scoring with a 35th minute penalty. Despite the setback of losing their South African hooker Brad Roberts to the sin bin, Rainey, who had controlled a lot of possession, won successive penalties before Andrew Magrath kicked them level right on the half-time whistle.

Defences were on top in the second period until scrum pressure provided the platform for Rainey’s first try. They had three successive set pieces, five metres out, and earned a couple of penalties before Harbinson was able to force his way over to make it 8-3. Full-back Michael O’Neill increased the lead with a 68th minute try, a charge-down letting ‘Gannon down and Rainey’s Ronan McCusker and Nicholas Stirling also exploiting space in a tiring home defence.

McGrath converted and also added the extras to a subsequent try from former Dungannon and Ulster lock Tim Barker, a terrific score which saw Paul Pritchard break through the heart of the defence and a quick recycle allowed Jason Bloomfield send Barker in under the posts. Harbinson’s 75th-minute try sealed the deal, with Rainey’s strong bench maintaining the high tempo and accuracy of their attacking play.

Matthew Montgomery’s well-taken intercept score salvaged some pride for Dungannon who remain third-from-bottom in the standings, while this round 5 result has moved Rainey up to third ahead of next weekend’s crunch clash with fourth-placed Wanderers.

Second-placed Skerries missed out on a try-scoring bonus point for the first time this season but were deserving 22-7 winners over Sunday’s Well at Holmpatrick. Billy Mulcahy knocked over an initial penalty before an attempted interception was missed by the visitors and Skerries scrum half Eoghan Carron used the space to chip through and score with 11 minutes gone.

The windy conditions played havoc with both hookers’ throws, but the ‘Well began to make headway as the first half progressed. Frustratingly, a refereeing decision went against the Corkmen after their maul had gained over 20 metres, and repeated offences then led to their captain Cyprien Jouve seeing yellow.

Nonetheless, the visitors, who had won their last two games at home, got off the mark with a memorable 35th-minute try. Eoin Geary’s move to out-half made the difference as he cut inside to open up the home defence and showed impressive pace and balance to finish off close to the posts. Shane O’Riordan, who reverted to full-back, clipped over the conversion.

Crucially, Skerries hit back just before the break, their sparky back-line showing good hands and releasing winger Dara Lowndes to ground the ball and number 10 Mulcahy’s conversion made it a 10-point game again – 17-7. There were missed opportunities at both ends on the resumption, the home backs threatening again before O’Riordan intercepted and almost conjured up a try from his own kick through.

The ‘Well spurned further chances, with the Goats fortunate to avoid a yellow card and a possible penalty try for a deliberate knock-on which denied a clear try-scoring opportunity. They opted for a scrum and won a couple more penalties, but Skerries survived and won a relieving penalty at the breakdown.

The home side went on to make certain of the win with a thrilling team try in the 73rd minute, lively winger Paul Devitt getting over in the corner for his third touchdown of the campaign. Skerries’ next assignment is a mouth-watering one – a top of the table clash with Crescent at Rosbrien next Saturday.

Meanwhile, Belfast Harlequins experienced the full gamut of emotions when earning a share of the spoils with MU Barnhall at Deramore Park. The positivity of an early try ebbed away for ‘Quins after red and yellow cards in either half, and Barnhall took advantage to score 22 points, including tries from Eoghan Quinn, Michael Mellett and Gareth Murray.

However, with versatile forward Callum Leckey in man-of-the-match form and their pack scrapping for every ball, the Ulstermen dug deep to turn a 22-7 deficit into a 22-all draw by the finish, scoring two more tries and dramatically drawing level with a late penalty.

Navan outscored Wanderers by two tries to one to give their campaign a huge boost with a gritty 17-13 victory on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch. Backs Riaan van der Vyver (30 minutes) and Sean McEntaggart (49) both touched down for Alan Kingsley’s charges, with Willie Staunton and Brian Haugh kicking the other points.

Wanderers trailed 10-3 at the break and although Danny O’Sullivan’s 66th-minute try brought them back within four points of the Meath men, Greg Lynch’s side could not avoid falling to only their second league defeat at headquarters in the space of 19 months.