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High-flying Hinch go into break with third consecutive bonus point victory

 

By Michael Sadlier

They had wanted to sign off the first four-game segment in some style and Ballynahinch certainly achieved that by beating UL Bohemians 34-17 at Ballymacarn Park.

Their third consecutive bonus point victory also brought Brian McLaughlin's squad up to second place in the Division 1B table - on a superior points differential over Banbridge - as the AIL breaks for two weeks.

The Co Down side pushed on to win in a strong second half showing after leading 17-10 at the break. Johnny McPhillips kicked 14 points from four conversions and a penalty while Hinch took their maximum point haul after tries from Aaron Cairns, David Busby, Conor Piper and Blane McIlroy with the latter's bonus try being scored with five minutes to go.

In Division 2A, Malone took over at the top from Armagh as the Belfast side took their unbeaten run to all four games played as they hammered Galwegians 70-15 at Gibson Park.

Prop Peter Cooper grabbed a hat-trick of tries as Malone ran-in nine touchdowns in all with winger Mark O'Connor on kicking duties and doing exceptionally well as he ended up with a very sizeable 25 points from eight conversions and three penalties after making 11 of his 12 shots at goal.

The home side's other scorers were David McMaster, Josh Davidson, Matt Dalton and Nathan Brown, while Michael Cartmill managed a brace of tries in the rout which had seen them secure their bonus point before half-time when Cartmill got over for the first time to bring Malone an interval lead of 37-5.

While Malone were making hay, Armagh somehow managed to fall to a shock first defeat of their campaign at Blackrock with the Dublin side coming into the game without a win and rooted to the foot of the table.

Willie Faloon's squad just couldn't close out a game they had led 20-18 and stumbled to a 28-20 reverse which saw Armagh even fail to take a losing bonus point as they dropped to third in the 2A table.

Elsewhere, Queen's University lost 25-14 at home to Cashel who hauled back the students' 14-6 lead with three tries and Neil Doak's players slipped from third to sixth.

Omagh's notable run of wins in 2C came to an end at Sligo when they were toppled from top of the league by their powerful hosts who scored eight tries to triumph by 52-15.

The Connacht side now lead the table though Omagh - who are now in fourth - were left to rue dropping the ball on the Sligo line in the last play of the game which would have brought them a try bonus after the earlier efforts of James Catterson, who scored twice, and Scott Barr.

It was better news for Bangor, though, as they saw off visitors Thomond 36-14 which also saw them secure a bonus point for their efforts and rise from fifth to second in the 2C table.

Meanwhile, in 2B, Rainey were 42-10 winners over Barnhall but John Andrews' side were the only Ulster club who tasted victory in the division.

Div 1B: Friday: Ballymena 17 Banbridge 23 (Friday game), Old Belvo 15 v Old Wesley 15 (Friday game); Sat: Hinch 34 Bohs 17, Naas 5 UCC 13, Shannon 52 Dolphin 0

Div 2A: Blackrock 28 Armagh 20, Corinthians 24 Nenagh 63, Greystones 9 Highfield 22, Malone 70 Galwegians 15, QUB 14 Cashel 25

Div 2B: Navan 15 Dungannon 15, Old Cres 20 Wanderers 19, Rainey 42 Barnhall 10, Skerries 28 Quins 14, Sunday's Well 36 Derry 19

Div 2C: Bangor 36 Thomond 14, Bective 34 Midleton 24, Sligo 52 Omagh 15, Tullamore 10 Bruff 39, Seapoint 25 Malahide 15

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