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Ballynahinch Leave Belfast With Bonus Point

Ballynahinch Leave Belfast With Bonus Point

Belfast Harlequins lost for the first time in four Division 1B outings as table toppers Ballynahinch pocketed a bonus point at Deramore Park.

Adam Larkin's men were hoping to gain revenge for a 13-11 defeat at 'Hinch in October, but injuries and Ireland Under-20 call-ups weakened their selection.

They did boast a strong scrum with Mark McGrath, Tom Fraser and Neil Simpson impressing in the front row, but a solid set piece game was not enough as Ballynahinch took advantage of a series of missed tackles.

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In the fifth minute, Michael Heaney missed a shot at goal after Ballynahinch had entered a ruck from the side. However, the Ulster scrum was on target to open the scoring four minutes later after Michael Graham was slow to release a tackled player on the ground.

The concession of that score seemed to bring 'Hinch to life, and when they finally began to mover the ball, they started to look dangerous.

The ever threatening Adam Craig collected a wide pass on the right wing and headed for the 'Quins try'line. Craig did extremely well to round his opposite number before crossing for the game's opening try, which was converted by Michael Lawton.

Lawton made it 10-3 to the Down outfit in the 18th minute. Great work from James Thompson left 'Quins captain Gareth Rourke not releasing him in the tackle and Lawton bisected the uprights with the resulting penalty kick.

Thompson was having a good evening and his running caused the 'Quins back row a lot of bother. In the 24th minute he attacked again and raced clear, this time he had Stuart Morrow in support and he offloaded to hooker Gavin Armstrong.

Armstrong did really well, he made good ground then remained strong in the tackle as he offloaded to Morrow in close support, the big 'Hinch centre racing clear to cross for the second try. Lawton once again added the extras.

The third 'Hinch try came on the half hour mark. This time it was strong running from Rodger McBurney that caused the damage as he smashed his way upfield.

With the home defence up flat, McBurney chipped the ball over the top but as he and the defence attempted to gather the ball, it bounced back into the outstretched hand of Robert Greer who did extremely well to keep control of the ball, drive forward and reach for the whitewash.

Lawton tagged on a superb touchline conversion to the flanker's try, leaving the hosts with a 24-3 deficit to overcome in the second period.

'Quins started well on the resumption and gained some decent field position for the first 20 minutes. Despite their best efforts, the 'Hinch defence was solid and eventually the visitors managed to break clear and relieve the pressure.

Great running from Blane McIlroy, McBurney, Robin Harte, Lawton, Morrow and Thompson kept pressing the Hinch advantage they had in their back-line.

In the 60th minute, Craig crossed for the all-important bonus point try. The clever wide man carried the ball in two hands, forcing the 'Quins defence to twist and turn until he spotted a gap for himself to dive over and score.

The final score came with eight minutes to go, and once again it was great pressure form the 'Hinch backs division that led to 'Quins dropping the ball.

Centre Robin Harte was first to react and he quickly put boot to ball and raced upfield where a carefully controlled kick sent the ball over the try-line with Harte winning the race to touch down. Lawton completed the scoring with a fourth and final conversion.

Referee: Michael Black (IRFU)