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Ballynahinch Pass Bruff Test

Ballynahinch Pass Bruff Test

Ballynahinch kept hold of top spot in Division 1B with a deserved 17-3 triumph over Bruff at Ballymacarn Park. The damage was done by tries from the in-form back-three combination of Aaron Ferris, Robin Harte and David Nicholson.

Bruff knew they had to keep the ball tight and their pack gave a Munster masterclass as to how this should be done, pushing Ballynahinch all the way.

'Hinch, to their credit, turned down any kickable penalty opportunities as they knew how important it was to get points on the board in the first half, out-half James Lash repeatedly sending the ball into touch to set up a catch and drives.

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In the ninth minute, this tactic yielded the first score of the game when the home backs flashed quick ball wide to put Aaron Ferris into space, the winger crossing the whitewash in the left corner. Lash failed to convert.

Bruff never threatened the 'Hinch try-line in the first half, their main role centred on defence and securing possession which they managed to do with great aplomb.

Lash missed a shot at the posts in the 35th minute and the half finished with 'Hinch taking a five-point lead into the interval.

Now with the wind at their backs, the Limerick men set siege in the 'Hinch 22. An early penalty in the 43rd minute from centre Brian Cahill cut the gap to 5-3, after back chat from scrum half Harry McAleese did not impress referee Darragh McCormack.

These points give the visitors a lift and Bruff once again kept play deep in the 'Hinch half, but the home side always looked dangerous, and a magnificent solo break by New Zealander Lash in the 49th minute almost resulted in a second score.

Bruff continued to pressure the 'Hinch line but a turnover and break by centre and man-of-the-match James Thompson in the 57th minute set up the next scoring opportunity.

He made great ground, beating a number of Bruff tackles and then putting David Nicholson clear only for the full-back to be stopped by a great cover tackle by his opposite number Brendan Deady.

The subsequent lineout was secured by 'Hinch and the ball flashed wide where Nicholson was back in the line and on hand to cross for a crucial score. Lash added the extras to take 'Hinch 12-5 clear.

It was a dramatic final 10 minutes with Bruff once again pressing hard for a score but as the clock ticked down to the 79th minute, 'Hinch flanker James Simpson cleverly gathered a chip ahead from Bruff out-half Tony Cahill to claim a vital turnover.

In frustration Bruff infringed and McAleese, from in front of his own posts, took a quick tap penalty, putting Robin Harte clear on the 22 to race up the right touchline and cross in the corner for a dramatic finish from the County Down side.

Referee: Darragh McCormack (IRFU)