Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Ballynahinch's champagne is heavily Corked

Work Dun: James Bates bids to get Dungannon moving in their Gibson Park defeat by Malone in AIL Ulster derby

Ballynahinch's much anticipated introduction to life in the top flight proved to be a harsh baptism as they failed to deliver the hoped for result in front of the Ballymacarn Park faithful.

Instead, the Co Down side had to make do with a losing bonus point on their first day in Division 1A when they went down 24-17 to Cork Constitution who pretty much spoilt the party for Hinch.

Derek Suffern's squad – with Paddy McCallister, David McIlwaine and Kyle McCall bolstering their ranks – just couldn't back up their decent enough start after going 6-0 up from two early Ritchie Lobb penalties and, even though they fought back from being 16-6 down with an Aaron Ferris try, Con proved just too strong.

In Division 1B, Belfast Harlequins also experienced that losing feeling – but painfully without a bonus point – at Deramore as Buccaneers prevailed 29-21 in a clash brimming with drama which saw a hefty 42 points racked up in an action packed second half.

In all, seven tries were run in. Buccs totally dominated the opening half but only led 8-0 at the turnaround. On the resumption Quins struck back with two marvellously taken tries by Ulster second row Neil McComb before full back Euan Strang got on the end of a sweeping Quins attack off a scrum.

Out half Liam Cambridge converted all three which saw Quins score 21 unanswered points to lead 21-8 after 56 minutes and, seemingly, secure the result.

But there was another twist to the unfolding drama as, three minutes after Cambridge converted Strang's score, Buccs' skipper Alex Hayman crossed near the posts.

Carty's conversion made it 21-15 and Buccs were back in the game which six minutes later saw Connacht player Tiernan O'Halloran also touchdown near the sticks which, again, Carty converted.

Cambridge was wide with a penalty chance in the 67th minute – as he had done so earlier when Quins led 14-8 – and Buccs then racked up their own unanswered 21-point total when late on James Tormey smashed over near the uprights for the bonus point score which Carty, yet again, converted.

Afterwards, Quins coach Adam Larkin was philosophical about a game which had frustratingly slipped away.

"We had the chance to turn the knife and we did exactly the opposite. You can't expect to do that and come away with a win," said Larkin.

Over at Gibson Park, Malone prevailed 20-10 in their Ulster derby with Dungannon in a game which was held up for a lengthy period of time due to a serious ankle injury sustained by Gannon full back Mark O'Shea.

After play resumed, following O'Shea's injury, Michael Barker stormed over to deny the visitors a losing bonus.

RESULTS: Div 1A: Ballynahinch 17 Cork Con 24; Garryowen 13 Dolphin 30; Lansdowne 14 UCD 27; Old Belvedere 24 Clontarf 21; St Mary's College 18 Young Munster 26 Div 1B: Belfast Harlequins 21 Buccaneers 29; Dublin Uni 7 Corinthians 25; Malone 20 Dungannon 10; Shannon 16 Blackrock 23; Terenure 36 UL Bohs 9

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