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Victory against Old Wesley unable to save Belfast Harlequins

By Michael Sadlier

Published 07/03/2016

Too late: Belfast Harlequins’ Mark Kettyle in action
Too late: Belfast Harlequins’ Mark Kettyle in action

They celebrated the 29-24 win over play-off chasing Old Wesley with understandable gusto, but the reality of the situation was difficult to shake off as Belfast Harlequins still found themselves relegated from Division 1B.

Basement side Quins already had one foot in next season's 2A as they were so out of touch with ninth-placed UL Bohemians but now they are gone with two games remaining.

Bohs' victory over Dolphin meant that Quins' efforts in registering their first bonus-point win - and only their second victory in 16 games - failed to bring about a stay of execution.

Still, there were positives with Mark Kettyle playing a starring role a mere 12 hours or so after his wife had given birth while his centre partner Mark Best also rose to the occasion with a try, three conversions and a penalty.

Quins had also found their way back into a game which looked gone when they trailed 24-12 early in the second-half with well-worked first-half tries from Ben Alexander and Best being supplemented by two tries from flanker Olly Loughead.

Their performance in beating Wesley - which saw the home side hold out despite being down to 13 men - was one which coach Adam Larkin felt would now stand to them in the lower division.

"I've no doubt that, if we can keep this squad together, we can be a force in 2A," said Larkin, though it is unclear if he will still be in charge.

Elsewhere, Ballymena's aim of making the top two evaporated as the third-placed Braidmen lost 34-19 to Dublin University, who are a place above them and now cannot be caught, though there were fringe benefits as Andy Graham's men - for whom Dave Shanahan scored twice on Saturday - are at least assured a top-four finish and a place in the play-offs.

And in 1A, bottom side Ballynahinch edged ever closer to relegation as they lost 31-13 to leaders Clontarf at Ballymacarn Park. Hinch are now eight behind Galwegians with two games to play.

Belfast Telegraph

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