Wanderers, Navan and Dungannon all gained one place in Ulster Bank League Division 2B over the weekend, while leaders Old Crescent came through one of their toughest tests to date, edging out Sunday’s Well 16-6 in Friday’s Munster derby.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE DIVISION 2B: Saturday, November 11
ROUND 7 RESULTS –
Belfast Harlequins 8 Dungannon 41, Deramore Park
Wanderers 27 MU Barnhall 13, Merrion Road
City of Derry 5 Rainey Old Boys 40, Craig Thompson Stadium, Judge’s Road
Sunday’s Well 6 Old Crescent 16, Irish Independent Park (played on Friday)
Skerries 0 Navan 27, Holmpatrick (played on Friday)
City of Derry could not get the result to match the off-field occasion that was the official renaming of their Judge’s Road ground to the ‘Craig Thompson Stadium’. Eglinton native Thompson, who goes by the name of ‘Mini Ladd’ on YouTube, is backing his local club with a lucrative new sponsorship deal.
Thompson flew in from Los Angeles to meet the City of Derry coaches and players ahead of their local derby clash with Rainey Old Boys, who spoiled the party with a crushing 40-5 win which moves them a point closer to Old Crescent at the summit.
Despite a strong start from Rainey with prop Tommy O’Hagan carrying strongly, they had to wait until the 17th minute to open the scoring. Rainey drove the hosts off their own scrum ball and replacement Aidan McSwiggan appeared to ground the ball for a deserved 7-0 lead.
Derry leaked eight penalties inside the first quarter of an hour and their under-pressure defence gave way again when Rainey’s influential South African hooker Brad Roberts gained ground and set up Tim Barker for a try. Their third followed when number 8 Jody McMurray attacked off the back of a scrum and Jason Bloomfield, the supporting scrum half, was on hand to score.
Out-half Andrew Magrath landed two conversions to give the Magherafelt men a 19-5 lead at the interval, with Kiwi scrum half Tyler Rogers-Holden again providing the spark for Derry as they created numbers on the left and centre David Graham was the man to score their only try of the game, out wide.
Derry were hit with a double blow early on the resumption when they leaked a penalty try at scrum time and lost back rower Stephen Corr to the sin-bin. With the bonus point in the bag, Rainey pressed on and just minutes later, John McCusker broke downfield from the back of a lineout with Roberts up in support. The ball was then shipped across the line to full-back Oisin Quinn who cut inside to dot down beside the posts.
Magrath converted and also brilliantly added the extras to replacement Nicholas Sterling’s try in the corner with ten minutes remaining, which was created by a crafty offload from winger Michael O’Neill. Derry, who were particularly competitive at the breakdown, missed out on a possible consolation try when they were called back for a forward pass.
Leaders Old Crescent needed a 67th minute try from Larry Hanly to see off the determined challenge of Sunday’s Well. This Friday Night Lights derby at Irish Independent Park was tantalisingly poised at 9-6 when Hanly delivered the telling blow to see Crescent take the spoils in a 16-6 win.
The tall centre has now scored four tries in his last three league outings, with out-half Ronan McKenna, who kicked the other 11 points (including three first half penalties), also coming to the fore in recent weeks. Two well-struck place-kicks from Shane O’Riordan after 37 and 55 minutes raised hopes of a shock win, but the ‘Well were unable to respond to Hanly’s seven-pointer.
Dungannon had 33 points to spare as they came away from Deramore Park with their first win in five rounds. Paul Armstrong’s intercept try put the seal on a 41-8 bonus point success for ‘Gannon against Belfast Harlequins, with Armstrong and Kiwi second row Adam Batt scoring braces and winger Matty Montgomery also touching down in a one-sided Ulster derby.
After three losses on the trot, normal service was resumed at Merrion Road where two second half tries steered Wanderers to a 27-13 bonus point triumph over MU Barnhall. Having leaked two early tries, the Blue Bulls bounced back with a Conor Lacey effort to cut the gap to 17-13 by half-time.
However, Simon Gillespie missed an opportunity to make it a one-point game and Wanderers were clinical when presented with try-scoring chances. Eoghan Clarke and Neil Hanratty touched down for the Chaps in the first half, while Joe Holland and Brian Quill weighed in with unconverted efforts to give Greg Lynch’s side maximum points.
The other Leinster derby in round 7 saw Skerries slump to a disappointing 27-0 defeat at home to a Navan side that are really beginning to pick up the pace. That is three wins in a row for Alan Kingsley’s men who have risen to fourth in the table, with two heavy losses seeing Skerries slip from second to fifth.
Midway through the first half at Holmpatrick, Sean McEntaggart made the breakthrough for Navan with a try out wide, brilliantly converted by Colm O’Reilly. The latter knocked over two penalties, either side of the break, to widen the margin to 13 points.
The impressive O’Reilly finished with a perfect record off the tee, converting two closing tries from James Ring, who finished off some slick back-line play, and Eoin King who burst over the line after gobbling up a loose ball off the back of a Skerries lineout.