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Rising stars throw down title gauntlet

By Ronnie Ingram

Ulster Juniors got the defence of their inter-provincial crown off to a flying start with a 33-20 victory over Connacht at Enniskillen.

They will face a more difficult challenge next Saturday, however, against Munster, who recorded an impressive six-try 43-20 triumph over Leinster at Portlaoise.

Ulster, who face a trip of almost 300 miles to Clonakilty for that clash with Munster, were behind midway through the first-half but fought back to take a 14-10 interval lead before two tries in the final quarter sealed the issue.

Connacht got the ball rolling with a Ross Keller penalty after three minutes before Ulster centre Ryan Bailey ran in to touch down for Chris Cousins to goal.

Connacht regained the advantage with a converted Lorcan Laheen score but Ryan Purvis nailed a solo effort try for Cousins to convert once more.

After the restart, Bangor's Davy Bradford charged over from close range before Keller's penalty brought it back to 21-13. Bradford again showed his strength to crash over for his second and the bonus-point try followed in the 77th minute when Philip Cartmill raced through to allow Mikey Poskett to score. Cousins was successful with his fourth conversion. Right at the end, Sean Tobin goaled a David McDonagh try for Connacht.

The Ravenhill Cup Round-Robin game between Ballymoney IV and Ballynahinch VII was postponed as it would have been Hinch's third game in eight days.

All-Ireland Junior Cup holders Enniscorthy failed in their attempt to win the remaining place in the AIL 2C next season when they lost in a play-off game at Sligo 24-22.

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