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Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Review

There were several eye-catching results in Division 2C last weekend as leaders Sligo slipped up against a Bain Champion-inspired Seapoint, Bective Rangers climbed off the bottom of the table with their second successive win, and Omagh overcame second-placed Thomond in a 69-point thriller. 

Malahide 21 Bruff 0, Estuary Road
Seapoint 22 Sligo 12, Kilbogget Park
Bangor 17 Bective Rangers 22, Upritchard Park
Midleton 20 Tullamore 20, Towns Park
Thomond 32 Omagh 39, Liam Fitzgerald 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.
Seapoint turned in their best performance for some time to hand table toppers Sligo a 22-12 loss at a bitterly cold Kilbogget Park. It was the south Dubliners’ first win in four rounds and owed much to the efforts of two-try out-half Bain Champion.
While the New Zealander nabbed some vital scores, Seapoint were particularly effective at the breakdown as the game wore on, making a lot of improvements across the board from their recent reversal at the hands of fellow strugglers Bective Rangers.
Sligo fought their way into a 12-5 interval lead with Matthew Cosgrove and Mark Rooney both touching down for the visitors. However, things did not go to plan for Ross Mannion’s men in the second period as their running game was met with strong resistance from Seapoint who were able to capitalise on a number of handling errors, scoring two tries in quick succession.
Their bonus point score arrived with six minutes remaining, with Sligo again giving away key turnovers under pressure from the hosts’ swarming defence. Seapoint’s tenacity and will to win was summed up when Sligo scrum half Ryan Feehily, gunning for a losing bonus point, was tackled into touch in the dying seconds.
The other match in the capital on Saturday finished in a well-merited 21-0 victory for Malahide against Bruff. After two defeats on the road, Rick Evans’ charges recaptured some of their best form at Estuary Road with the result sealed by second half tries from centre Rory Kavanagh, who stormed over from a midfield break off a scrum, and winger Marcus McAllister, who made it over in the corner to keep up his enviable try-scoring rate.
Malahide are back on their travels this Saturday in the first of their back-to-back clashes with fellow Division 2C newcomers Omagh. The Accies head into round 9 on a high after taking the scalp of high-flying Thomond in a stunning 39-32 bonus point victory at Liam Fitzgerald Park.
Phil Marshall’s side stung the Soda Cakes with 19 unanswered points in the final quarter to claim a prized Limerick double, having won at Bruff in September’s opening round, and move up to third in the standings in the process.
Thomond led 22-8 at one stage during the first half of this hugely entertaining encounter. They cancelled out a terrific score from Omagh’s dangerous winger and man-of-the-match Ryan Mitchell with touchdowns from Ger Finucane, David O’Halloran and the division’s top scorer Darragh O’Neill, who now has ten tries to his name, making it 25-13 at half-time.
Talented young out-half Evan Cusack crossed the whitewash from a brilliant 56th-minute breakaway for a 32-20 Thomond lead, but Omagh, whose haul also included a James Catterson try from a quick tap and a penalty try awarded for a dominant scrum, had other ideas.
The visitors managed to string together three tries without reply during the closing 20 minutes. Winger Scott Barr crossed for the bonus point try on the hour mark for Kevin Murnaghan to convert and make it a five-point game. Then, Stephen Maclaine, who was part of an influential Omagh bench, cut through to score their levelling fifth try, with fellow replacement Scott Elliott’s conversion putting them ahead – 34-32.
The Accies, who were roared on by their vocal travelling support, came under renewed pressure from Thomond in the dying minutes as the home side sought out a match-winning penalty or drop goal. Cusack tried the latter but his effort was blocked by Elliott who kicked ahead and showed his dribbling skills and pace to score, ensuring a full house of points for the Tyrone men.
Giving his reaction afterwards, Omagh head coach Marshall said: “I’m delighted with the result today. To come back to win this one and close it out in the way we did was great for the lads. There are no easy away trips in this league, never mind playing a Munster side in their own back yard and to come away with all five points is superb.
“We have had a challenging week with several players injured or unavailable but all credit to the lads, they gave me everything from one to 20 and thoroughly deserved this one. We have had a couple of games where we didn’t close them out so this one, in the way that it finished, is all the more special.
“Our bench made the difference today with significant contributions from each of them, especially Scotty Elliott and Stephen Maclaine with tries at the end. I’m also delighted with the scrum. We worked hard on it during the week and destroyed their pack at times.”
Having won at home to Seapoint last time out, Bective Rangers took their winning form on the road and a two-try first half set them up a hard-fought 22-17 success at Bangor. Rangers have now leapfrogged Tullamore at the foot of the table, ahead of their December double header with Thomond.
The Dubliners trailed to an early Nathan Graham penalty at Upritchard Park before an 11th-minute turnover allowed them to swiftly exploit a gap in the Bangor defence and Kevin Byrne claimed the game’s opening try, converted by out-half Gearoid O’Grady.
Tempers flared after a promising Bangor maul was thwarted by the visitors, with the Seasiders losing flanker James Henly to the sin-bin. Bective used their numerical advantage to stretch the home defence, their back-line showing well with ball in hand, and Bangor ended up with a second player binned as scrum half Gareth Wright was guilty of a deliberate knock-on.
Jason Morgan’s charges did their best to hold on but in the final play of the first half, Bective’s Philip McCarthy managed to crash over for their second try of the afternoon and a 14-3 lead at the break. There were two converted scores between the teams when O’Grady landed a penalty goal.
The deficit was back to seven points after a lineout maul worked a treat for Bangor, sending their forwards coach Lewis Stevenson over for a try which was brilliantly converted by Mark Widdowson into the wind. However, that good work was undone when a Bangor clearance kick was charged down and a Bective hand got to the ball first for their third try, which went unconverted at 22-10.
The Bective defence came under increasing pressure in the forward exchanges, and a penalty try, with six minutes remaining, gave Bangor renewed hope. It took some desperate defending for Bective to hold on, and Bangor’s best attacking opportunity in the dying embers – a five-metre scrum from a penalty – was taken away from them when an injury to a Rangers prop forced uncontested scrums.
Meanwhile, Midleton blew a 14-3 lead early in the second half and needed a late Stuart Lee penalty to salvage a 20-20 draw with Tullamore, who have fallen to the bottom of the table despite picking up two hard-earned points at Towns Park. Jon Gardiner and Dan Murray, with a charge-down, were the Midleton try scorers.

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