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Ballynahinch Begin New Year With A Bang

Ballynahinch Begin New Year With A Bang

The result of the weekend in the Ulster Bank League came at Belfield where second-from-bottom Ballynahinch served up a 32-26 defeat to hosts UCD in Division 1A.

Ballynahinch out-half Richie Lobb had a brilliant day with the boot, firing home six penalties and two conversions as he tallied up an impressive 22 points.

Having played the students and finished above them in Division 1B last season, a good contest in Dublin was expected.

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Ballynahinch received the kick-off, playing with a slight breeze at their backs, and they engineered the first scoring opportunity following a great break from scrum half Blane McIlroy.

The ball was fed to right winger Michael Lawton, whose kick ahead and follow-up tackle saw the students concede a penalty for not releasing. Lobb stepped up ad his first shot at the posts from just inside the 10-metre line was successful.

UCD came under further pressure in their 22 as the 'Hinch forwards controlled a lineout maul, working the ball through for lock John Madden to cross the whitewash with 12 minutes gone. Lobb added the difficult conversion for a 10-0 buffer.

The number 10 nailed a second subsequent penalty before the hosts finally got up to speed, with Lobb's opposite number James Thornton closing the gap after 'Hinch were pinged for not rolling away.

Bobby Byrne's youngsters continued to attack the 'Hinch defence and clever interplay between forwards and backs allowed them to work their way back into the visitors' half. Thornton opted for a drop goal on the half hour mark for a 13-6 scoreline.

Ballynahinch missed a further try-scoring opportunity on 34 minutes as they chose to take a quick penalty and attempted to maul their way towards the try-line, but with Aaron Cairns the extra man on the overlap, the final pass went into touch.

A missed touch kick from UCD then saw Cairns feed supporting full-back David McIlwaine who attacked into the 22, only to see the students increase their penalty tally for not releasing the player.

McIlroy took the quick tap and forced his way to within 10 metres of the UCD line and with the home side's defence in tatters, desperation struck as Thornton was sin-binned.for repeated infringements.

Lobb took another easy three points from the resultant penalty and he then rounded off the first half with a fourth successful penalty, leaving Derek Suffern's charges 19-6 up at half-time.

The visitors resumed on the front foot with a big carrying burst from prop Kyle McCall whoc broke several UCD tackles. The subsequent pressure saw the students infringe again, but this time Lobb's long range shot at goal drifted wide.

But, by the 46th minute, 'Hinch were 26-6 to the good as they moved lineout possession quickly out along the backs and the Ulster-capped McIlwaine burst through to score under the posts. Lobb tagged on the extras.

The restart saw the students get some much-needed luck of their own as 'Hinch dropped the ball, allowing UCD to recover their own kick and then pressurise the Hinch line, resulting in an unconverted try for full-back Andrew Boyle in the corner.

Hinch started to feel the pressure of a fired-up UCD team and the penalty count started to go in the students' favour.

Approaching the hour mark, Matthew McKeown, who had replaced the injured Dominic Gallagher, was sin-binned for killing the ball at a ruck, allowing UCD to take an easy three points.

However, Lobb converted a further incredibly difficult penalty from the touchline to see 'Hinch increase their lead to 29-14.

The students still had not given up and a dangerous chip ahead from their own scrum saw Hinch have to rapidly defend their own line.

Cairns did well to field the kick through but was driven over the whitewash, resulting in a five-metre scrum for the students. Hinch defended the scrum well and the ensuing pressure resulting in a second scrum under the posts.

It took some committed defending from McIllwaine and Madden to hold up the UCD charge in midfield, and a final long range penalty from man-of-the-match Lobb widened the margin to 18 points.

UCD were not finished completely and after several phases of play, put together a great move that saw some desperate defence from the visitors and resulted in lock Kenny Morton being shown a yellow card for killing the ball.

The students reacted smartly and took a quick penalty that resulted in a try in the corner for prop Kieran Moloney and a very difficult conversion was sent over by replacement out-half Niall Earls.

UCD cleverly snatched a losing bonus point in injury-time, using the searing pace of winger Sam Coghlan Murray. With the extra man coming into play, they set up flanker Donagh Lawler for a final unconverted effort in the corner.

Referee: Kieran Barry (IRFU)