Last season's McCambley Cup finalists Belfast Harlequins IV and Strabane II both fell at the first hurdle on Saturday when they were eliminated by Malone V 24-22 and Ards IV 13-3 respectively.
Malone, after a 39-5 East 2 League win over their opponents a few weeks ago, started favourites at Cherryvale but it was the holders who forged ahead to a 12-0 advantage in the first 15 minutes with tries by prop Kevin Carrothers and Andrew Scott, the first converted by Jonathan Watson.
"We then started to come into the game and our pressure told with two tries to level," commented home captain Tristan McCorry. "Back row forward Ojo Alomide broke through to score and after a try was disallowed No 8 Dominic Jansen picked up and crashed over for Keith Goddard to convert"
Both teams had to defend stoutly in the second period, especially Malone who had Jokin Egana yellow carded. Quins had a push over try far out but Malone eventually took a 24-17 advantage towards the close after Goddard added the points to one of the tries by Eddie York and substitute Ben Siri.
In the final minutes, it was all Quins and their reward was a brilliant effort from Ciaran Flaherty but the conversion was missed and Malone survived.
First round results : Academy III 0 Inishowen 61, Antrim 15 Enniskillen III 5, Ballynahinch VI 47 Malone IV 0, Bangor III 19 Ballymoney V 8, Civil Service II 10 Clogher Valley III 17, UUC III 0 Ballynahinch VII 56, Tir Chonaill 11 Portadown V 10, Strabane II 3 Ards IV 13, Randalstown III 46 Finn Valley 5, Malone V 24 Belfast Harlequins IV 22, Limavady III 55 Rainey IV 10, Larne III 17 CIYMS IV 64, Donegal Town II 6 Ballyshannon 12, Cookstown 60 Londonderry YMCA II 0