AIL Divisions One and Two: Ballynahinch claim the bragging rights as Ballymena stumble
They came together for this Ulster derby with plenty at stake. Both Ballymena and Ballynahinch had swept all before them having acquired maximum points after three games, so something had to give.
It was Ballymena who tripped up to allow Division Two leaders Ballynahinch leave Eaton Park with their record intact after the Co Down side’s narrow 18-15 triumph.
It had looked as if the Braidmen had done enough to edge it after tries from Paul Pritchard and James Carson had helped the home side into a 15-3 lead, but ‘Hinch doggedly fought back through the boot of Ryan Bambry and a Jonny Simpson try before a late penalty try edged them into a lead that they maintained to the end.
Meanwhile, in Division 1B, Dungannon won for a second week running with an eye-catching result against previously unbeaten Clontarf at Stevenson Park with the home side, which included Ryan Caldwell, winning 30-17.
Paddy Jackson was in fine form for ‘Gannon, scoring a try and kicking three penalties as well as converting not only his own score but those of Craig Gilroy and Conor Gaston to end the day collecting 20 points.
Back in Division Two, Malone bounced back from last week’s defeat as they managed a bonus point win after delivering a 33-14 thumping on Old Crescent at Gibson Park, with Ulster player Paul Emerick scoring twice.
At the Dub, Queen’s University saw off a late challenge from Corinthians to prevail 21-19.
Scrum-half Ian Porter spearheaded the Queen’s effort. Tries from Paddy Magowan, Chris Quinn and Matthew Arneill — which were all converted by Porter — had put the students 21-11 up. However, the Galway side finished strongly and would have tied the game had Shane Mullally not put his injury time conversion wide.
Elsewhere, Belfast Harlequins travelled to UCD and ended up on the wrong end of the 47-24 result, though Quins did at least manage to grab a useful bonus point after scoring four tries.