Dungannon’s bonus little help in their relegation battle
Three games remaining and the bottom of Division 1B is becoming a fairly congested and uncomfortable place to be currently located.
One from bottom Dungannon had a crucial chance to ease their gathering troubles at basement club Buccaneers, but Justin Fitzpatrick’s squad have still failed to register a single win on their travels
The 15-10 reversal — their sixth straight defeat — brought ‘Gannon a losing bonus point and level on points with fellow relegation battlers Ballynahinch, who lost heavily at UCC, but the outline of the table remains the same with both ‘Gannon and Buccs currently making up the drop zone with the Connacht side’s win bringing them to within two points of both Ulster teams.
Not that ‘Hinch can in any way breathe easy, but they host Buccs in the next round of games on March 6 and that result will have highly significant survival implications for the winners.
A Conor Gaston try converted by James Shiells kept ‘Gannon eight points adrift of Buccs after the home side had scored 15 in the opening 40 minutes and though ‘Gannon did not concede any more scores they could manage only a solitary Shiells penalty to bring them their bonus point.
As for Ballynahinch, not even the presence of Ulster flanker Willie Faloon could prevent a 32-10 defeat, the only points for ‘Hinch coming from a Paddy McCallister try along with a conversion and penalty from Ryan Bambry.
Ballymena also tasted defeat when visitors Young Munster made off with four points after their 27-13 victory left John Andrews’ squad a not entirely comforting six points above the relegation battle, though both ‘Hinch and ‘Gannon are on the Braidmen’s remaining fixture list.
After trailing 11-10 at the break, with a try from Darryl O’Kane and a conversion and penalty from Davy O’Hara, the Braidmen lost their way in a second half.
In Division Two, Belfast Harlequins’ promotion hopes were dealt a blow when they fell 23-12 at Thomond — four penalties from Richard Reaney was all they could muster — leaving Quins in fifth spot but now eight points adrift of second placed DLSP.
At least Malone enjoyed a 32-9 bonus point thumping of Old Wesley at Gibson Park with out half Josh Pentland amassing 22 points, alongside tries from Mark Hill and Johnny Burgess.