Bangor lose but still make their point on club's historic day
For most of Saturday afternoon it seemed that Bangor's return to AIL rugby was, after 14 years of travelling elsewhere, going to be anything but a memorable occasion for the Uprichard Park club.
And maybe it would have too had Rainey Old Boys not had three players sin-binned, forcing them to play with 14 men for half an hour in the heat of this Ulster derby in Division 2C, allowing the home side to finally make the man advantage pay by scoring 12 late points.
Then again, Rainey - also new to 2C after being relegated last season - had already secured their try bonus, thanks to a brace from George Fritz and one each via Ricky Andrew and Michael Wilson, and were leading 24-6 and set fair to win their first AIL game since last February.
Even so, much credit must go to Jason Morgan's Bangor for refusing to accept their apparent lot with late tries from Michael Weir and David Bradford, along with a crucial Mark Widdowson conversion, allowing them a valuable losing bonus point.
"We're happy to have taken a point," said Bangor player-coach Morgan after the 24-18 defeat.
"Maybe it was our inexperience but we know we've just got to be better and I think we can be," he added.
"We're delighted with the win," said Rainey head coach John Andrews, "but our indiscipline was just horrific."
Meanwhile, in 1B, both Ballynahinch and Ballymena got off to winning starts.
Hinch scored five tries - Ulster's Sam Windsor managing a brace - in their 35-13 thumping of Buccaneers at Ballymacarn Park.
The Braidmen were at Shannon and triumphed 25-19 with Mark Best scoring 15 points in their non-bonus point opener.
In 2A, Banbridge racked up maximum points by beating Sunday's Well 41-12 at Rifle Park. Malone won 21-13 at Cashel but both Queen's University and Belfast Harlequins succumbed to Highfield and Nenagh Ormond respectively.
The students managed a losing bonus point from their trip to Cork after losing 16-13 but Quins, who hosted Nenagh, were beaten 28-17.
In 2B, Armagh registered a bonus point victory at Bective Rangers, winning 30-14.
Dungannon beat Barnhall 20-15 at Stevenson Park but City of Derry lost 32-15 at Judges Road to Skerries.
Division 1B: Ballynahinch 35 Buccaneers 13, Dolphin 19 UL Bohemians 41, Naas 18 Galwegians 13, Shannon 19 Ballymena 25, UCC 20 Old Wesley 23
Division 2A: Banbridge 41 Sunday's Well 12, Belfast Harlequins 17 Nenagh Ormond 28, Blackrock College 20 Corinthians 13, Cashel 13 Malone 21, Highfield 16 Queen's University 13
Division 2B: Bective Rangers 14 Armagh 30, City of Derry 15 Skerries 32, Dungannon 20 MU Barnhall 15, Old Crescent 3 Greystones 19, Wanderers 54 Thomond 19
Division 2C: Bangor 18 Rainey Old Boys 24, Boyne 24 Bruff 19, Midleton 30 Kanturk 9, Seapoint 22 Tullamore 18, Sligo 22 Navan 26