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Ballynahinch eke out bonus but badly need win

By Michael Sadlier

It was probably best to avert your gaze from the weekend's results as all four of Ulster's representatives in the AIL's two-tiered upper echelon lost with only Ballynahinch and Belfast Harlequins managing to even eke out a bonus point.

In Division 1A, Hinch travelled to St Mary's College looking for their first win in three games, but their hopes were dashed as five Gavin Dunne penalties outweighed the three kicked by Ritchie Lobb as the home side prevailed 15-9.

Still, Hinch did get that all-important bonus point though they are now just two points above basement side Garryowen with a first win rapidly becoming a priority for the Co Down side.

At a wind and rain lashed Deramore, Harlequins were beaten for the third time in Division 1B as leaders Terenure College used their superior nous and strength to play the conditions to adequate effect in their 13-12 win.

Unbeaten Terenure used their power up front to play territory and to stifle Quins' hopes even though the home side's 9-3 interval lead looked as if it might prove enough to take the points.

Four Liam Cambridge penalties seemed like a decent enough return for Quins – who now have two points from the same number of losing bonuses and sit one from bottom in ninth – but 'Nure managed to just about stay in touch and then they struck early in the second half for the game's only try.

Not surprisingly it came off a lineout – an area where they totally eclipsed Adam Larkin's side who lost at least half-a-dozen on their own throw – when John Dever burrowed over and Mark O'Neill's conversion put the Dublin side 10-9 to the good and in the lead for the first time.

But Quins – with Ulster squad members Michael Heaney and Niall Annett in their ranks – came back and Cambridge's fourth penalty, in the 56th minute, seemed to give Quins renewed belief particularly as it followed Fergal Walsh's sin-binning.

However, 'Nure were much more streetwise and O'Neill's second penalty, struck while Walsh was still cooling his heels, put them one point in front and despite Quins' best efforts they just couldn't engineer an escape act.

Things weren't any better down the road at Gibson Park where Malone were beaten 31-6 by UL Bohemians, a defeat which sees Jacques Benade's men tumble to seventh spot.

Malone failed to cope with the conditions and the opposition and trailed 21-3 by half-time after Bohs had already scored three tries.

James McKinney's second penalty narrowed the margin shortly after the restart but, inevitably, Bohs struck for their fourth and bonus point score to make it 26-6 before another touchdown followed and the rout was complete.

Dungannon weren't able to back up their victory over Dublin University last time out and instead disappointingly fell 17-6 to Shannon which allowed the once mighty Munster club to notch up their first win of the campaign.

Gannon led 6-0 at half-time thanks to two Peter Nelson penalties – he was again playing at out half – but all their efforts from the opening 40 minutes counted for little as the home side scored 17 unanswered points to take the game and see the Tyrone side slide to eighth in the table.

Belfast Telegraph

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