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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Division 2B leaders Old Crescent sent out another warning to the chasing pack by thrashing Skerries 45-0 in a one-sided top of the table clash, while there were also bonus point victories on home turf for MU Barnhall, Navan and Rainey Old Boys.



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MU Barnhall 41 Dungannon 24, Parsonstown
Navan 41 City of Derry 12, Balreask Old
Old Crescent 45 Skerries 0, Rosbrien
Rainey Old Boys 32 Wanderers 18, Hatrick 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.

Despite lining out without injured player-coach Brendan Guilfoyle, Old Crescent still had too many weapons in their arsenal for second-placed Skerries. They ran in seven unanswered tries at Rosbrien with out-half Ronan McKenna touching down and kicking five conversions for a 15-point haul.

The Goats were behind inside eight minutes, Crescent’s backs and forwards both making good yardage before centre Larry Hanly’s show-and-go took him over by the posts. They ended the first quarter with a 14-0 lead, their quick distribution and powerful drives keeping Skerries under pressure in defence and winger Val McDermott was able to cross wide on the right.

McDermott stung Skerries with his second try of the afternoon just six minutes later. His superb sidestepping run, having fielded possession just inside his own half, took him all the way to the try-line as the visitors’ defence was left flatfooted and in a daze.

The home side had the bonus point in the bag by half-time, McKenna adding his fourth successful conversion for a 28-0 lead after Hanly’s centre partner Shane Mullally burst through the middle for a well-taken 32nd-minute score, as a heavy rain shower also dampened Skerries’ mood.

There were some positives for the Dublin outfit either side of the interval, with their scrum and maul getting them into scoring range and almost forcing a try, while Jim Mulvany carried strongly and captain Mikey Sherlock, Ciaran Leonard and Joe Glennon fought hard to shore up the defence. However, the table toppers were in miserly form and they wrapped up the runaway victory with three further tries from their backs.

Right winger Cathal Monaghan dotted down on the hour mark, the beneficiary of a long looping pass from key man McKenna. Backs coach Brian Tuohy, who played at full-back, got in on the act with a 78th-minute sprint to the line, and McKenna, the former Shannon number 10, made it seven tries right at the death.

The next biggest winning margin on the day was achieved by Navan who claimed maximum points in a 41-12 dismissal of City of Derry at Balreask Old. Fifth-placed Navan, who are now unbeaten in three games, matched Crescent’s seven-try haul with five of them coming in the second half.

Versatile back Vaa Mailei, a Canterbury Crusaders Academy graduate who played in Spain last season, opened his account in Ireland with a 12th-minute score. Conor Hand followed up with the hosts’ second try soon after, giving them a 10-0 lead at the turnaround.

Conor Ryan, Bryan McKeever and Mailei – with his second touchdown with 15 minutes remaining – kept the scoreboard spiralling in Navan’s favour before they had the final say with efforts from Leigh Jackson and Riaan van der Vyver. Tries from Tiernan Thornton (63 minutes) and Tyler Rogers-Holden (69) lifted Derry’s spirits but 24-7 and 29-12 was as close as Trevor Will’s men got.

MU Barnhall are only a point outside the top four after dishing out a 41-24 defeat to a Dungannon side that are winless in the last four rounds. Matthew Alborough and Eoghan Quinn scored two tries apiece for the Blue Bulls in the second half, adding to earlier efforts from Brendan McSorley and Nathan Veltom.

Rainey Old Boys have leapfrogged Skerries into second place courtesy of a 32-18 bonus point success at home to Wanderers. Greg Lynch’s Chaps have come unstuck in recent weeks, falling to three defeats in a row and allowing the likes of Crescent and Rainey to push clear.

With their back-line looking particularly sharp, Wanderers struck for two first half tries – scored by Niall Hanratty and Marty Ryan – and a 15-10 interval lead. However, they could only muster a single penalty goal from Garret O Suilleabhain in the second period as a rousing Rainey performance ended with a bonus point score in the final minute.

Rainey’s only try of the first half was finished by Ulster Under-19 representative Michael O’Neill, who was sought out by a brilliant 20-metre pass from busy scrum half Jason Bloomfield who, together with flanker Paul Pritchard, had a key influence on proceedings.

John Andrews’ men built some momentum on the restart, their pack producing two big scrums and Tim Barker, Brad Roberts and Pritchard leading a series of drives that sapped the Wanderers defence. The ball was then spun out to the right where Oisin Quinn sent his back-three colleague O’Neill over for the levelling score at 15-all.

Only a few minutes later, the Rainey forwards laid the foundations again and full-back Quinn joined the attack in timely fashion before centre Josh McIlroy managed to scramble over from the edge of the 22. Andrew Magrath’s conversion made it 22-15 to the hosts.

Guilty of playing too much rugby in their own half, Rainey coughed up a penalty which saw O Suilleabhain close the gap to four points with 15 minutes remaining. But they produced a clinical finish to the match to pocket all five points. A Magrath penalty reopened the seven-point lead before the Magherafelt side struck for a late bonus point when number 8 Jody McMurray used the narrow side of a five-metre scrum to break over for try number four.

Match Photos:

Rainey Old Boys v Wanderers – Perfectlight/Voicu Duma
Old Crescent v Skerries – Niall O’Reilly