Malone were the only team to buck the trend for home wins on the final day of Division 2A action for 2017. The Cregagh Red Sox secured a bonus point victory in Galway to maintain their one-point lead over chief chasers Highfield, while the bottom two spots are filled by Galway city rivals, Corinthians and Galwegians.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE DIVISION 2A: Saturday, December 9
ROUND 10 RESULTS –
City of Armagh 37 Cashel 19, Spafield
Corinthians 17 Malone 31, Corinthian Park
Greystones 36 Queen’s University 12, Dr. Hickey Park
Highfield 35 Galwegians 10, Woodleigh Park
Nenagh Ormond 22 Blackrock College 17, New Ormond Park
City of Armagh vaulted back into the top four courtesy of a 37-19 bonus point success at home to Cashel. It took a huge effort from a team of volunteers to clear the snow off the Palace Grounds pitch and allow the match to proceed.
Armagh’s determination to avenge last week’s 13-10 defeat was obvious in the early exchanges, as scrum half Harry Doyle used a quick turnover to link with Chris Colvin who sent winger Robbie Faloon over in the corner for a seventh minute try.
Number 8 Neil Faloon sprinted clear for Armagh’s second try just three minutes later, with centre Colvin providing the assist again after a fleet-footed counter attack from a Cashel kick. Out-half Darragh Lyons got Cashel off the mark before the end of the first quarter, with his penalty closing the gap to 10-3.
Colvin deservedly got on the scoresheet when scooping up a loose ball and running in try number three in the 23rd minute, and although a series of forward drives saw hooker Niall Fitzgerald touch down for the Tipperary men, Armagh bagged their bonus point on the half hour mark when Robbie Faloon scored via a midfield break by Tim McNeice.
The scoreline stood at 24-13 at half-time with Lyons landing penalties either side of the interval. The former Cork Constitution favourite had Cashel right back in contention (24-19) with a further penalty goal, awarded for a scrum infringement.
However, that brought the best out of Armagh who were able to close out the result in clinical fashion. Having been starved of possession in the third quarter, winger Ryan Purvis, who had taken over the kicking, got the Ulstermen back on track with a 68th minute penalty.
A stunning try really knocked the stuffing out of Cashel’s challenge, two minutes later. From a lineout 30 metres out from their own line, the Armagh backs moved the ball up to halfway and full-back McNeice fed Purvis to run in from the 10-metre line, beating two defenders to notch his second try in two weeks against Cashel. The winger converted his own try and tagged on a 74th minute penalty to complete the scoring.
Meanwhile, 25 points was the margin at Woodleigh Park where second-placed Highfield had the measure of struggling Galwegians for the second week in a row, running out 35-10 winners. The omens were not good for the Blues when they leaked two tries inside the opening ten minutes.
The first came from a break near halfway by centre Luke Kingston who took a great line and broke the first tackle before waltzing through the midfield defence to score under the posts, with Paddy O’Toole converting. Then, with Galwegians a man down in defence, space was worked for winger David O’Sullivan to skip inside a defender and grab the hosts’ second seven-pointer.
Galwegians did grow into the game, owning most of the possession and territory for the remainder of the first half, but their inability to take advantage of their opportunities came back to haunt them again. The wet weather conditions made handling extremely difficult too, and they had to settle for a penalty from out-half Morgan Codyre on the half hour mark.
Highfield led 21-3 at the turnaround and had five tries on the board – all converted by Paddy O’Toole – by the time Codyre ran in a late intercept score from near halfway. Highfield’s James Daly had finished off a move near the left before half-time, and Galwegians’ task grew more difficult as a couple of front row injuries left them playing with 14 men.
Kingston rounded off a steal from a lineout maul to weave his way over for his second try of the day, while Highfield’s final score arrived five minutes from the end. Their captain Miah Cronin latched onto a botched ‘Wegians lineout in their own 22 to slide over the whitewash.
Table toppers Malone won for the first time in five visits to Corinthian Park as they overcame the Galway men on a 31-17 scoreline. Malone and Corinthians both had some notable absentees, with the hosts missing the presence of Kieran Joyce, Dylan Tierney, Pat O’Toole and Sean Masterson who were away with Connacht Eagles.
Although Corinthians began brightly with an early try from Connacht Academy full-back Colm de Buitlear, a bout of scrum pressure saw Malone awarded a penalty try closing in on half-time as they moved into a 21-10 lead. Their two earlier tries were scored by scrum half Shane Kelly, who linked incisively with centres Nathan Brown and Josh Pentland, and number 8 Neil Alcorn who drove over from a 27th-minute scrum.
During a Corinthians-dominated third quarter, the visitors again showed their canny knack of soaking up pressure in defence before striking stealthily for a try. Backs and forwards combined in the build-up to replacement Ricky Greenwood’s 55th-minute bonus point score, with Rory Campbell adding his third successful conversion.
Mark McDermott, a real bright spark for Corinthians at out-half, ran in a converted try to restore the 11-point deficit, but Malone’s well-organised defence tightened up for the remainder, holding out even when centre Brown was in the sin-bin. Replacement Mark O’Connor’s late penalty settled the issue for the Cregagh Red Sox and ruined Corinthians’ hopes of nabbing a losing bonus point.
Flying winger Jack Keating’s fourth-minute try put Greystones on course for an excellent 36-12 bonus point victory at Dr. Hickey Park as they completed a notable double over Queen’s University. Cormac O’Donoghue, Ferdia Kenny (2) and David Baker also touched down before key man Keating completed his brace in the 80th minute, as ‘Stones rose up to seventh in the table.
Nenagh Ormond ended the calendar year in third place – six points off the summit – after recording a 22-17 win at home to Blackrock College. Tries from Jamie McGarry and Conor Muldoon ensured Nenagh led 17-3 at the break, and lock Kevin O’Gorman’s unconverted score proved vital in the end as Blackrock, who picked up a deserved losing bonus point, had the deficit down to just five points in the closing stages.