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Malone Get Back To Winning Ways

Malone Get Back To Winning Ways

Malone recorded their fourth victory of the Division 1B campaign as they ran out bonus point winners of their Ulster derby encounter with Ballymena.

Ulster out-half Niall O'Connor was the playmaker for Malone and his kicking from hand and from the tee was superb, with Ireland Club XV squad member Glenn Moore ably leading the home pack.

Jacque Benade's men got off to the perfect start with a try from winger Michael Barker after three minutes. A penalty was kicked to touch, the Malone forwards put the ball through a few phases before an overlap was created for Barker to squeeze over in the corner.

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O'Connor missed the conversion and Ballymena had to scramble to avoid leaking a second try soon after, with home centre Johnny Burgess knocked into touch close to the whitewash.

The Braidmen, who failed to score a try in their last two league outings, advanced downfield and looked set to open their account only to concede a penalty close to the Malone try-line.

That try arrived on 23 minutes when the visiting forwards attacked from a close-in lineout and prop Andrew Warwick powered over. Out-half Callum Patterson was unable to land the conversion.

The home side enjoyed a period of dominance while Ballymena winger Peter Budina was in the sin-bin. He earned a yellow card for a taking a player out in the air without the ball.

An O'Connor kick was left by the Ballymena cover as it headed towards the touchline. The alert Josh Pentland pounced to gather the loose ball and he passed back inside for the onrushing Barker to grab his fourth try in three league games.

O'Connor converted and then he also added the extras to Shane Kelly's 37th-minute try, the scrum half taking advantage of another defensive lapse from the division's bottom side. Ballymena were 19-5 adrift at the break.

Centre Pentland, one of Malone's best players on the night, sealed the bonus point towards the end of an error-strewn second period. He burst clear as the home backs clicked into gear and O'Connor's successful conversion confirmed a 21-point winning margin.

Referee: Richard Kerr (IRFU)