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Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 2B: Round 4 Review

Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 2B: Round 4 Review

The Aviva Stadium's main pitch was the venue for the Division 2B meeting of Wanderers and Dungannon ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Eight points separate fourth-placed Belfast Harlequins from unbeaten leaders Instonians following a high-scoring and hugely entertaining fourth round in Energia All-Ireland League Division 2B.


Saturday, November 4 –

Dolphin 17 Galway Corinthians 45, Musgrave Park (played on Friday)
Belfast Harlequins 30 Skerries 30, Deramore Park
Instonians 52 Sligo 19, Shaw’s Bridge
Malahide 27 Rainey Old Boys 21, Belvedere College Sports Grounds
Wanderers 33 Dungannon 31, Aviva Stadium main pitch

The league’s fourth tier resumed on Friday night with the visit of Galway Corinthians to bottom side Dolphin. Three tries inside the first 15 minutes showed Corinthians meant business and they ran out 45-17 winners at Musgrave Park.

Centre Harry Rogers opened the scoring in the second minute, bursting onto a Matthew Devine pass to crash over from 10 metres out. Hooker Max Holmes added Corinthians’ second try from a well-controlled maul.

Finn McNulty touched down almost straight from the restart, with a terrific Devine pass putting the winger into space from just outside the visitors’ 22. He shrugged off two defenders and outpaced the chasing pack for a brilliant solo score.

Dolphin lifted their game during the second quarter, winning penalties and spending much more time in and around the opposition 22. Their maul was their main attacking weapon and a collapse near they own line saw Corinthians concede a 33rd-minute penalty try.

Dolphin flanker James Vaughan won an early second half penalty at the breakdown, teeing up Daryl Foley to expertly split the posts from long range. Suddenly, the yellow-shirted Corkmen were only nine points down (19-10).

However, Michael Harding’s men seized control again and strung together four tries to give the scoreboard a lopsided look. A surging run from Rory Glynn almost took him over, but there was no stopping captain Mark Boyle who was well supported by John Devine.

McNulty completed his brace after Sean Naughton’s kick downfield had bounced in Corinthians’ favour, and Holmes, who struck from another maul, and Rogers also finished with two tries each.

Rogers topped off the visitors’ try count at eight, going over untouched from just inside Dolphin’s 10-metre line after number 8 Boyle had broken clean through from a Dolphin restart and linked with Matthew Devine who supplied the scoring pass.

Dolphin, who are bound for Magherafelt next weekend, did at least sign off with a last-minute consolation try. Their forwards maintained a high work-rate and Vaughan burrowed in under the posts for Foley to convert.

Meanwhile, Instonians made it 22 bonus point wins in a row with a 52-19 dismissal of Sligo, during which former Ireland international Ian Whitten scored his first try for the buoyant Belfast club.

Sligo scrum half Brendan Cunningham showed his sharpness with two first half tries, the first one from a quick tap and the second saw him scoot down the blindside of a maul. That meant they turned around only 21-14 in arrears.

Nonetheless, despite injuries testing their squad depth, Instonians showed exactly why they are at the summit. Young replacement hooker Jack Parkinson was driven over from a maul for their bonus point score, giving them a 12-point cushion.

Parkinson was held up off another lineout, the Inst backs were set in motion. Zak Davidson was held up short in a tackle, but influential centre Bevan Prinsloo managed to get the ball down to keep the scoreboard moving.

Matthew Keane knocked over a classy touchline conversion to make it 33-14 and also added the extras to an excellent team try finished off by Whitten, which delighted the Shaw’s Bridge faithful.

Prinsloo proved elusive when attacking down the left wing, Ruairi O’Farrell’s cross-field kick picked out Mark Mairs, and the number 8 nimbly sidestepped back inside and offloaded for the supporting Whitten to slide over.

Sligo gave themselves a shot at securing a late bonus point, with Polish international Martino Quiroga muscling in near the posts, but Inst still have two more tries in them, Prinsloo completing his brace and captain Robert Whitten crossed from his own quick tap.

Instonians’ first half haul was made up of two Ollie Clarke maul tries and a snipe for the line from lively scrum half Rhys O’Donnell. They are off to Dublin’s Merrion Road to face third-placed Wanderers in the next round.

Wanderers were able to mark their traditional early season appearance on the Aviva Stadium’s main pitch with a 33-31 victory over Dungannon. Out-half David Fitzgibbon had an impressive day with the boot, kicking 18 points.

Dungannon led on two occasions and finished strongly with final quarter tries from front rowers Daniel Mikołajczyk and Sean O’Hagan, earning them two bonus points. Crucially, Wanderers had had a couple of scoring spurts in each half which ultimately proved telling.

‘Gannon full-back Ben McCaughey took out three defenders with a smooth sidestep and offload out a tackle for winger Jacob Clarke to touch down in the seventh minute. McCaughey converted, making up for an earlier penalty miss.

The Tyrone side were well-organised in defence, particularly in dealing with Wanderers’ maul attempts, but two penalties from the right-footed Fitzgibbon made it a one-point game entering the second quarter.

Despite McGaughey punishing a high tackle from Sean Goonburn to put ‘Gannon into double figures, the Chaps built a 16-10 lead thanks mainly to an opportunist 24th-minute try from Connor O’Brien.

With the visitors fumbling possession in their own 22, Adam McAuliffe swooped on the ball and carried up close before Conor McQuaid sent lock O’Brien powering over in the left corner. Fitzgibbon coolly converted and found the target too with a late penalty.

That good work was undone though by the hosts’ nightmare finish to the first half. Hooker Brian Vaughan, who was caught offside near his own line, and captain Brian Quill were both sin binned, with the later collapsing a maul which gave Dungannon a penalty try.

Trailing 17-16 at the interval, you would have got long odds on Wanderers scoring the next 17 points but they did just that. The momentum swung back to them when flanker Connor Fenlon squeezed over at the end of a forwards-dominated spell.

Fitzgibbon increased his influence with a pinpoint conversion and a subsequent 40-metre penalty to extend the lead to 26-17. ‘Gannon had to regroup following the loss of number 8 Adam Milligan for a late challenge on Fitzgibbon.

With 58 minutes on the clock, Milligan’s opposite number, Popoai Finau, exposed some loose tackling down the short side as Wanderers turned an Eoin O’Shaughnessy-led counter attack into their third try, converted again by Fitzgibbon.

Punching more holes in the home defence, Milligan, O’Hagan and James Girvan all gained good ground up towards the Wanderers posts before tighthead O’Hagan forced his way over beside the posts. McCaughey’s conversion left just two points in it.

Frustratingly for Dungannon, out-half Andrew McGregor failed to find touch from a penalty late on, and although they did get one final maul opportunity, when play moved infield it was Wanderers openside Fenlon who got in at the breakdown to earn a match-ending penalty.

Elsewhere, Malahide registered their second home win of the campaign, getting the better of Rainey Old Boys on a 27-21 scoreline. The result could have gone either way with Rainey exerting plenty of pressure late on.

This fixture was moved from Estuary Road to Belvedere College’s all-weather pitch. Malahide’s Matthew Faulkner was released down the right wing to score the first half’s only try.

He was not held in a tackle and bounced up, five metres out, to scramble his way over. His centre partner Dave O’Halloran kicked the other points for a 13-6 half-time lead.

Ray Monaghan’s charges widened the margin to 14 points when wily number 8 John Shine, following up on a scrum penalty, took a quick tap to claim their second try, converted by O’Halloran.

Mark Lee injected pace into a Rainey attack soon after, stepping inside the cover and brilliantly offloading off the deck for fellow back rower Adam Montgomery to pull back seven points.

A barnstorming 20-metre maul propelled Rainey captain Daniel O’Neill over the whitewash, cutting Malahide’s lead back to just 20-18. Scott McLean’s conversion attempt came back off the left hand post.

Play swung between both 22s before Malahide openside David Feenan sprung clean through from a 66th-minute ruck to score under the posts, leaving Rainey stunned. O’Halloran’s extras put more than a converted score in it.

The Magherafelt men got back within six points when out-half McLean booted a sweetly-struck penalty to complete his 11-point haul. It was a helter-skelter finish but Rainey, despite some decent territory, were unable to produce a knockout blow.

Belfast Harlequins and Skerries played out a thrilling 30-all draw at Deramore Park, with an excellent long-range penalty from Ronan Mulcahy giving the visitors a share of the spoils. Ross Halligan, captain Kevin McGrath and Shane Hannon scored tries for the Goats.

Harlequins led 17-3 at one stage and bagged a bonus point through touchdowns from Joel Dundas (2), skipper Mark Glover and player-of-the-match Cole Blyde.

Charlie Beattie and Mulcahy traded closing penalties, taking their tallies to 10 and 15 points respectively. ‘Quins finished the match without flanker Ben Alexander who was sent off for a high tackle.