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Earls Lands Late Winner For UCD

Earls Lands Late Winner For UCD

Replacement Niall Earls fired over the match-winning penalty for UCD at Gibson Park as they ended Malone’s winning start to the Division 1B campaign.

Malone v UCD Video Highlights: First Half

Malone v UCD Video Highlights: Second Half

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In a nail-biting finish, Niall Earls' late penalty was the difference between the sides after a fiercely competitive Ulster Bank League encounter in Belfast.

Having lost at home to Ballynahinch last time out, UCD were eager to make amends against a Malone team that stood proudly at the top of the table with three bonus point wins.

After a minute's silence for the late Finbar Costello, noted as 'the heartbeat of UCD RFC' for a number of years, the students came roaring out of the traps.

They were full of running early on and struck for the opening try through number 8 Eoin Joyce. Moving the ball at pace, winger Paddy Dix was set up for a purposeful run before quick ruck ball allowed James Thornton put Joyce over in the right corner.

Out-half Thornton failed to convert and despite linking up well in attack, Malone were let down by some uncharacteristic handling errors as UCD retained their lead.

Malone had Josh Pentland at number 10 in place of the Ulster-tied Niall O'Connor, and the latter's presence was missed as the Cregagh Red Sox remained scoreless past the half hour mark.

Five minutes before the break, UCD grabbed their second unconverted try. From a scrum 10 metres out, the industrious Joyce peeled off the back, spun out of a tackle from John Creighton and passed for scrum half Rob Shanley to touch down.

Malone gained some crucial territory on the cusp of half-time and succeeded in getting over for a timely first try, their forwards rumbling on before prop Chris Taylor drover from close range. Scrum half Creighton missed the conversion.

The third quarter saw Malone take control with their talismanic captain Glenn Moore making a terrific bust off set piece ball.

There was a moment of controversy then as Moore, having broken past Mark McGroarty and Shanley, looked to have scored a legitimate try. The large home crowd felt aggrieved as the score was ruled out by referee Olly Hodges.

UCD were falling foul of the match officials however, and they had two players sent to the sin-bin for deliberately slowing the ball down.

The hosts seized on another scrum opportunity with Moore powering away from the rear to score their second try. Creighton's conversion took Malone ahead at 12-10.

With their forwards and backs combining to good effect, Malone threatenen again soon after. UCD were penalised for hands in the ruck and Creighton landed the penalty to put five points between the sides.

Back to 15 players, UCD bounced back in a period of relentlessly attacking. Their reward was a second try for Joyce although the kickable conversion was missed by Thornton's replacement Earls as the scoreboard showed 15-15.

With time running out, the sides scrapped furiously for possession and a final scoring chance. It came to UCD in the form of a 40-metre penalty. Up stepped Earls to hammer the kick home and Malone had no opportunity to respond.

Referee: Olly Hodges (IRFU)