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Malone inflict Ballymena's first defeat of season

By Michael Sadlier

It wasn't just in Dublin that the surprises came, as Malone unexpectedly became the first side to take Ballymena down in this AIL campaign when they came away from their Ulster derby at Eaton Park as 13-7 winners.

With the more experienced Ballymena pack expected to dominate proceedings, Malone got stuck in from the off and managed to gain the upper hand early on, a situation which the home side - who had won all five games up to Saturday - never really got to grips with.

As it was, Jacques Benade's squad also played the conditions with much more authority and deserved to take the four points which saw them rack up back-to-back league wins though the result was somewhat marred by late second half injuries to forwards James McAllister and Richard Millar, following a frightening head clash.

McCallister was reported to have concussion and a nose injury while Millar sustained a suspected fracture below the eye and both players will be out for a period of time.

With young out-half Josh Bingham playing an astute game, Malone made their tactical nous pay with two Josh Pentland penalties giving them a 6-0 lead at the break and that became 13-0 after Pentland converted second row Cory Tipping's try from a lineout maul.

The Braidmen hit back with a late score from James Beattie, which was converted by Timothy Small, to at least harvest them a losing bonus point to keep them in second while Malone also remained fourth.

Meanwhile, one from bottom Belfast Harlequins were unable to produce their own second consecutive win when they succumbed at home to Buccaneers with the Connacht side running out 20-7 victors.

Mark Best got all Quins' points with a try and conversion after the home side had trailed 17-0 at half-time.

In Division 1A, Ballynahinch's winning run also came to an end at Young Munster where the home side triumphed 29-20 though the Co Down squad will be particularly disappointed after they had battled back to level the scores at 15-15 at the interval.

Stephen McCauley, Steve Honey and Michael Graham got Hinch's tries.

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