Scrum half Ian Porter showed his value to Belfast Harlequins once again as he landed three clinching penalties in this confidence-boosting victory over Ballynahinch.
It was always going to be between a rock and a hard place scenario for these two Ulster clubs going into this table-topping derby clash with just three points separating them at the top of Ulster Bank League Division 1B.
From the kick-off Belfast Harlequins forced their way into the 'Hinch half with some power play by their chunky pack. They won a series of penalties on the opposition five-metre line and opted for the scrum option.
'Hinch took a ball against the head in the second scrum and cleared their lines. From the resultant lineout, 'Quins worked the ball into midfield and the daintiest chip over the defence by Mark Kettyle allowed his centre partner Michael Allen to run on and touch down just left of the posts.
Ian Porter added the extras to the 13th minute try, but straight from the restart 'Hinch made good headway into the 'Quins half and were awarded a penalty due to a ruck offence. Out-half James Lash made good with his attempt after 16 minutes.
The next ten minutes saw 'Hinch exert considerable pressure on the home side and in a scramble defence Alistair Heatlie was yellow carded just outside his 22. Lash landed a straightforward penalty on the 29-minute mark.
Within a few minutes 'Quins were back inside the opposition half and indiscipline in defence by 'Hinch allowed Porter to kick his first successful penalty.
'Hinch battered the 'Quins line for the remainder of the half, but robust defence repelled the County Down outfit, leaving Adam Larkin's men with a 10-6 interval lead.
'Hinch came racing out of the blocks at the start of the second half, pinning 'Quins in their own 22. 'Quins got out of jail when an intervention from an assistant referee resulted in 'Hinch's James Simpson seeing yellow.
'Quins cleared their lines, but a penalty brought 'Hinch right back into scoring range. Poor handling let the visitors down which resulted in a five-metre scrum for 'Quins.
A back row move off the back of a 'Quins scrum was turned over by Willie Faloon, and quick ball allowed Lash to touch down under the posts on the 53-minute mark. Lash tagged on the easy conversion for a 13-10 advantage.
A few minutes later 'Quins bulldozed into the opposition half and 'Hinch offended again at the breakdown. Porter made an awkward penalty attempt look easy to bring the hosts level.
'Hinch were penalised again shortly after the restart. Porter backed himself to convert the monster kick and he duly kicked what seemed an impossible penalty to take 'Quins ahead by three points.
For the remainder of the game, 'Quins were in the ascendancy and two further penalties by match winner Porter punished 'Hinch's poor discipline. An injury-time flurry by the visitors was not enough to influence the result.
Referee: Eddie Hogan-O'Connell (IRFU)