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Ballynahinch find route to survival

By Michael Sadlier

Published 18/04/2016

Cool head: Derek Suffern isn't getting carried away just yet
Cool head: Derek Suffern isn't getting carried away just yet

The escape route from automatic relegation required some manoeuvring of spectacular proportions for Ballynahinch but, against all the odds, they pulled it off at Ballymacarn Park.

The 59-5 tanking of Garryowen in the last round of regulation games was key to lifting Hinch into ninth to now give them a play-off route to survive in 1A, but then so too was Galwegians blowing a losing bonus point in the final minutes at Cork Constitution. Had the Connacht side held on, Hinch's huge win would have counted for nothing.

It all meant that Derek Suffern's squad wriggled free from bottom spot but only on a superior points differential from Galwegians, who were the ones to go down. And this was some doing considering Hinch went into the weekend five points behind with a 44-point differential to make up.

Hinch now have a chance of staying in the top-flight and host Buccaneers (fourth in 1B) in a semi-final play-off this weekend.

Suffern said: "We produced a superb second-half performance.

"Cork Con got that late score and we were the ones who, for a change, got a bit of luck.

"Hopefully we can now finish the job off and stay up. We can't let the elation get to us and we mustn't think any further ahead than the semi-final play-off."

Hinch scored nine tries - one was a penalty try - and Aaron Cairns led the charge with a brace of scores while Chris Quinn converted seven after the Co Down side piled on the points.

Meanwhile, in the Division 1B Ulster derby at Deramore, already-relegated Belfast Harlequins gave departing coach Adam Larkin the ideal send off by beating third-placed Ballymena - who meet Dublin University in a play-off this weekend - 36-26 in an entertaining game which saw 10 tries scored.

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