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Home Comfort For Five-Try Corinthians

Home Comfort For Five-Try Corinthians

Corinthians produced a much-improved display to give new head coach Pat Cunningham his first Ulster Bank League success – a five-try 29-25 win at home to Malone.

Smarting from a poor performance against Ballymena, Corinthians looked lacklustre enough in the first quarter against another of Division 1B's Ulster clubs, Malone.

From the off, Malone out-half John Creighton kicked an excellent ball into the corner, but Corinthians scrum half Mickey Murphy was wide awake to the danger and cleared his lines.

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Jacques Benade's men kept up the pressure and Corinthians hooker Joey Merrigan was eventually yellow carded by referee Ken Imbusch for popping up in an offside position. Centre Josh Pentland had no problem in converting the penalty for a 3-0 lead.

The northerners had their tails up as the Cloonacauneen outfit were again pulled for loitering in an offside position. Pentland comfortably extended the advantage to six points.

Corinthians had no answer to the rampant visitors as their right winger Michael Barker rambled in for an excellent touchdown to stretch their lead in the 20th minute.

Some minutes later, as the home pack drove forward, a quick break by Murphy saw him link up with flanker James Connolly who skated in for an excellent try. Connacht out-half Miah Nikora added the extras.

Pat Cunningham's charges upped their game again and within five minutes they got in for their second try. Murphy again made a fine break to get the ball out to right winger Darin Claasen and he combined with captain James Buckley who stepped past the final defender to score out wide. Nikora's conversion made it 14-11.

From the subsequent restart, Malone were again caught flatfooted as home flanker Donnchadh Phelan gathered possession and centre Charlie Ryan and Claasen laid the groundwork for Buckley to complete his brace of tries in the corner.

Nikora missed the difficult conversion this time, and Pentland replied just before the break to reduce the arrears for Malone to 19-14.

Corinthians were in full flow on the resumption as man-of-the-match Eoghan Masterson made an excellent break from halfway and only a double movement prevented him from grounding successfully.

However, ten minutes later, Masterson got his just reward when his pack set up a maul and the young number 8 broke through the Malone cover to reach over the line for the bonus point try.

The hosts' scrum was dominant at this stage as props Finlay Bealham and Jamie Dever, who came on as a replacement, were very much to the fore. Dever claimed the fifth touchdown via a maul from the five-metre line.

The contest changed dramatically after this as the visitors lost their hooker to injury and the referee called for uncontested scrums. This gave the Belfast club some impetus and they grabbed a a fine try through flanker John Burns which was converted by Pentland.

Malone continued to put pressure on the Corinthians defence while they were a man down, and Pentland's fourth successful penalty – right at the death – sealed a losing bonus point for his side.

Referee: Ken Imbusch (IRFU)