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Craig Stars As Ballynahinch Blitz Cork Con

Craig Stars As Ballynahinch Blitz Cork Con

Ballynahinch are now just one point outside of Division 1A’s top four after full-back Adam Craig helped himself to a hat-trick of tries in their 34-13 bonus point success against Cork Constitution.

Ballymacarn Park is a real fortress for Ballynahinch these days and having trailing 13-10 at the break, with Gerry Hurley dotting down for Con, Derek Suffern's side went on to dominate the second half as they ended the Leesiders' sixth-match unbeaten run.

Playing towards the clubhouse with a bitterly cold wind at their backs, Constitution scored first thanks to a third minute penalty from young out-half Tomas Quinlan.

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Keeping the ball tight, 'Hinch hit back in the 13th minute with a well-worked try by winger Ross Adair – his sixth of the Ulster Bank League campaign.

After the hosts kicked a penalty the edge of the Con 22, Chris Napier secured lineout possession and when the ball found the hands of Harry McAleese, 'Hinch executed a neat play to bring Adair (pictured below) into the line and he raced clear to score. Fellow winger Chris Quinn added the extras for a 7-3 lead.

Quinn soon made it 10-3 with a well-struck penalty goal from halfway after Con strayed offside at a ruck. However, the visitors got back on level terms by the 20-minute mark.

Tom Tierney's charges had a lineout ball knocked down close to the 'Hinch line and it looked as if their captain Hurley had knocked on when attempting to pick up. But referee Nigel Correll ruled that the ball come off hit Hurley's boot and the scrum half gathered the loose ball to scamper over for a converted score.

The visitors knew they had to make the most of the conditions and half-backs Hurley and Quinlan, together with centre Niall Kenneally, kicked to the corners with great accuracy. Hurley missed a drop goal effort in the 25th minute, but Quinlan landed a penalty three minutes later after the 'Hinch backs had strayed offside.

As the breeze began to strengthen, Suffern's men held onto the ball and managed to turn round at the interval just three points adrift.

'Hinch started the second half on top and Quinn had a penalty attempt drift wide in the 43rd minute. Surprisingly, the hosts opted to run the ball instead of kicking for the corners.

Three minutes later, 'Hinch moved the ball wide with Adair cutting between two Con forwards and making good ground into the 22 where he passed inside to Adam Craig who switched direction to beat the Con cover and touch down behind the posts. Quinn's conversion took 'Hinch 17-13 clear.

Quinn added a penalty in the 50th minute after Con had collapsed a scrum, giving his team a seven-point advantage. Although 'Hinch flanker Jonny Madden was yellow carded four minutes later after a dust-up at a ruck, the County Down outfit lifted their game.

Con lay siege in the 'Hinch 22 but despite their numerical advantage, they were kept out by 'Hinch who eventually cleared the danger.

In the 67th minute, 'Hinch managed to gain field position deep in the Con half and after taking play through a number of phases Craig (pictured above) went over in the right corner for his second try. Quinn added a fine conversion from the touchline for a 27-13 scoreline.

'Hinch went on to collect their bonus point with seven minutes remaining. Craig ran hard, slicing through the stretched and deflated Con defence to dive over in the left corner and complete his hat-trick. Quinn's conversion sealed a 21-point winning margin.

Referee: Nigel Correll (IRFU)