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In-Form Malone Show No Mercy To Ballymena

In-Form Malone Show No Mercy To Ballymena

Malone have taken over from UCD at the top of the Division 1B following their 60-3 demolition of Ulster rivals Ballymena on Saturday.

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: BALLYMENA v MALONE SECOND HALF

Having scored 13 tries and 96 points in their first two league outings, it is fair to say Malone have taken this division by storm so far.

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The Cregagh Red Sox have dished out heavy defeats to first division regulars Dungannon and Ballymena, with their early season form suggesting that they have what it takes to push for a second successive promotion.

Head coach Jacques Benade will no doubt keep his players grounded during the three-week break from league action, as they return to Ulster Senior League and Cup duties.

His young team play an exciting brand of rugby and it is interesting that note that the Belfast club and UCD, two of the most attack-driven sides in the division, are currently sharing the lead at the top of the table.

Once again, number 8 and captain Glenn Moore had an important input for Malone on Saturday, scoring a hat-trick of tries in a storming individual display.

His back row colleagues Neil Alcorn (2) and Conor Joyce also breached a lacklustre Ballymena defence, while backs Chris Leathem, Mark Gribben and John Creighton also touched down for the visitors.

The performance was all the most impressive given that Malone had lost first choice centres Josh Pentland and Johnny Burgess to injury beforehand. Michael Barker and Mark Gribben stepped in for them with David Irvine starting on the wing.

In dry and sunny conditions, Malone dominated this Eaton Park encounter right from the off. Moore caught the ball at a ninth minute lineout and peeled away, powering over the top of Ballymena hooker John Burns on the way to the try-line.

Niall O'Connor's successful conversion was cancelled out by a Niall Martin penalty for the Braidmen, which proved to be their only score of the entire 80 minutes.

Gribben took two defenders with him as he crashed over the line for a 12th minute try. O'Connor converted but suffered his first miss ten minutes later after scrum half Creighton set up Joyce for another powerhouse effort.

Moore broke off the back of a scrum on the half hour mark to score his second seven-pointer and seal Malone's bonus point before half-time.

Ballymena were chasing shadows at times such were the intelligent angles of running produced by the visitors, who also boasted a ferocity of play in the forwards.

Try number five followed from Creighton who got over out wide after winning the race to a kick ahead. The touchline conversion was added by O'Connor and the Ulster out-half tagged on the extras to a late sixth from Leathem, who ran in unchallenged in the corner.

43-3 in front, Malone continued to pile on the misery for the home side as a well-executed maul put Moore over to complete his hat-trick.

Malone then absorbed some pressure from Ballymena before notching further tries. Alcorn went in under the posts in the 57th minute and the flanker gobbled up a neat grubber kick from Niall O'Connor for his second try. Replacement Shandon Scott's conversion took Benade's men to 60 points.

Ballymena mounted a late response, controlling play as they hunted for a consolation try but it never came as Malone frustrated them with a series of strong tackles.

Referee: Eanna O'Dowd (IRFU)