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Bann secure title in style while Armagh prepare for play-offs

 

By Michael Sadlier

After enduring several near misses regarding going up, Banbridge finally secured promotion to the top flight after lifting the Division 2A title with a 40-12 victory at Sunday's Well.

Coach Dan Soper's squad took maximum points from the trip to Cork to cap a great season for the Rifle Park club which ended with them getting their hands on silverware.

Bann led 15-0 at the break and that lead was stretched to 22-0 before the Well got any points on the board so there was no real danger of Soper's squad losing their grip on this game, which was out-half Andy Magrath's final outing for the club before he heads to New Zealand after being cut from the Ulster structure.

Meanwhile, as expected, Malone finished the regulation season in fourth place despite their 45-15 thumping of Cashel at Gibson Park.

Paddy Armstrong's in-form squad needed already relegated Belfast Harlequins to do them an unlikely favour by beating Nenagh and, though bottom side Quins came close, they ended up being beaten 42-38.

Malone now face quite a task as they meet Dolphin in Cork this weekend in their play-off semi-final.

Still, they should travel in reasonable confidence after running in seven tries against Cashel though the Tipperary side had nothing to play for.

Full-back Andy Bryans led the way for Malone with a hat-trick of tries for a personal haul of 15 points while the home side's other touchdowns came from Callum Smith, former Ulster player Mark McCrea, Dave McCallister and Nathan Brown.

Queen's University wrapped their campaign up in a 31-24 home defeat to Highfield with the students finishing in fifth.

But the students bagged two bonus points from a narrow defeat and four tries being scored with Chris Kelly getting over twice and Rory Bell, David Whitten and Jack Milligan also crossing.

In 2B, Armagh's 36-16 victory over Bective at the Palace Grounds wasn't enough to see them claim the title and automatic promotion as Greystones managed that with a tanking of Old Crescent.

Armagh now host Wanderers for their play-off semi-final and will go into this weekend's game in confident mood after Alex McCloy's squad scored six tries in beating Bective.

Stuart Lester and Tim McNeice both scored a brace of tries while Harry Doyle and Ryan Purvis added one each to add to Armagh's final total.

Meanwhile, Dungannon lost 40-17 at Barnhall and ended up sixth in the table.

Though City of Derry were defeated 19-14 at Skerries, there was plenty of celebrate for the north west club as their losing bonus point ensured that they avoided ninth place and a play-off for survival in 2B.

Derry's successful final day escape saw them finish eighth in the table, just a point above Bective.

Meanwhile, in 2C, Rainey put Bangor to the sword in their Ulster derby with the hosts running out 49-0 winners.

John Andrews now takes his third-placed squad west to meet Sligo who finished one place above them.

Rainey scored seven tries with Ulster-involved prop Tommy O'Hagan getting one while Rainey's other try scorers were Jody McMurray, Michael Wilson, Richard Donaghy, Peter Stewart and Alan McSwiggan.

Bangor, who were already safe, will now regroup for next season under Jason Morgan.

After just about avoiding the relegation zone, Bangor will want more from their second season back in senior rugby and the club is already planning to strengthen its squad for the next campaign.

Results: 2A: Corinthians 43 Blackrock 10, Malone 45 Cashel 15, Nenagh 42 Belfast Harlequins 38, Queen's 24 Highfield 31, Sunday's Well 12 Banbridge 40

Champions and promoted: Banbridge

Relegated: Belfast Harlequins

Promotion play-off semis: Highfield v Nenagh, Dolphin v Malone

2B: Armagh 36 Bective 16, Greystones 45 Old Crescent 10, Barnhall 40 Dungannon 17, Skerries 19 City of Derry 14, Thomond 23 Wanderers 17

Champions and promoted: Greystones

Relegated: Thomond

Play-offs: Armagh v Wanderers, Sunday's Well v Old Crescent

2C: Bruff 25 Boyne 25, Kanturk 36 Midleton 13, Navan 15 Sligo 5, Rainey 49 Bangor 0, Tullamore 19 Seapoint 24

Champions and promoted: Navan

Relegated: Kanturk

Play-offs: Sligo v Rainey, Bective v Tullamore.

Belfast Telegraph

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