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Braidmen leave it late to edge out Galwegians

By Michael Sadlier

It was quite the weekend for Ulster's clubs with all four managing to be victorious over both divisions though Ballymena probably shaded matters with the most significant win as it took them to the top of Division 1B.

The Braidmen edged past Galwegians, dramatically prevailing 23-22 at Crawley Park to stretch their winning run to five games while, in doing so, beating the previous leaders and inflicting on them their first reverse.

However, it took a Tim Small penalty with the last kick of the game to give coach Andy Graham's the result which sees them lead Galwegians by a point at the top.

The Braidmen had earlier scored a try through Patrick James and also landed a penalty try with Richie McMaster kicking both conversions and two penalties.

Elsewhere, Malone's 23-10 result at a weather-beaten Gibson Park was also highly significant as it brought them a vital result and lifted them up to fourth.

They probably should have come away with a try bonus, Malone had scored three in the first half before a combination of the weather, the referee and the Bohs lineout maul all helped to take a firm grip on proceedings.

Still, Malone's aggressive defence stood up to the test when it mattered with Paul Jackson and Ben McDonnell putting in big shifts. Not only that but in the first half, with the weather slightly more benign, the home side scored three excellent tries, the first and third coming from marvellous solo runs from scrum-half John Creighton while in between centre Nathan Browne got over.

What remained of the game, though, only saw them manage a solitary Josh Pentland penalty while Bohs scored 10 points though, again, credit must be given for the way Malone's scrum stayed on top and the manner in which they knuckled down after losing skipper Connor Joyce and second row James McAllister to yellow cards to play 20 minutes with 14 on the park.

Not to be outdone, Belfast Harlequins also claimed their second win when they went to Limerick and beat Shannon 26-21.The result lifted them off the foot of the table but only by one place with Shannon now bottom and came courtesy of tries from Caleb Montgomery and Peter Dunlop being converted by Eamon Lane who also kicked four penalties.

In Division 1A, three late tries for Hinch brought them the maximum return from their 33-13 home game with St Mary's College and took the Co Down side up to fourth in the table.

Richard Reaney, Ross Adair and Robin Harte all crossed the Dubliners' line with a penalty try bringing Hinch their bonus.

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