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Harlequins, Malone ease fears but Dungannon down

By Michael Sadlier

The timing could hardly have been better and all bar Dungannon, who finally succumbed to relegation from Division 1B, had much reason to celebrate at the weekend.

Other than in Gannon's case, there was much positive progress made in Division 1B as both Belfast Harlequins and Malone delivered critical away wins while, in Division 1A, Ballynahinch grabbed another bonus point victory to ensure they will meet Buccaneers in a play-off unless an unlikely looking set of results this weekend sees them overhaul Dolphin to finish in eighth.

In Quins' case, their 21-13 win at Corinthians safeguarded them from a final day of frayed nerves while Malone's eye-catching 27-7 bonus point victory at Shannon means that their destiny is now in their own hands.

Malone now need a win, a draw or two bonus points from their last outing -- as it happens against Corinthians at Gibson Park -- to absolutely guarantee their place in next season's line-up, though even gaining one point should also be sufficient to survive and send Blackrock College into Division 2A along with Dungannon.

Quins chose exactly the right time to end their five game losing run when they not only got clear of being dragged into the relegation mire but also ended Corinthians hopes of finishing second and booking a play-off place.

Tries from Rory Scholes and Willie Stewart helped the sixth-placed Deramore side on their way while Ewan Strang kicked three penalties and a conversion.

Meanwhile, Malone made the most of their early kick-off at Shannon and tries from Conor Joyce, skipper Neil Alcorn and a brace from Peter Henderson along with a conversion and penalty from Nathan Brown and another conversion from Josh Pentland ensured that the Gibson Park side moved up a place to leave Blackrock in ninth.

At Stevenson Park, Dungannon's 13th defeat in 16 outings ensured that their already inevitable exit from the division finally arrived and already promoted Terenure College -- who have won all 16 games this campaign -- did the needful as they hammered the Tyrone side 44-10 and scored eight tries against them in the process.

Gannon's only scores came from a Glen Sinnamon try along with a conversion and penalty from Peter Nelson.

However, Gannon's thoroughly miserable season drags on beyond this weekend as they have to fulfil a game in hand against Shannon following Saturday's now meaningless Ulster derby at Quins.

Up in Division 1A, Hinch did the double over UCD and triumphed 29-14 at Ballymacarn Park. David McIlwaine led the scoring with three conversions and a penalty while the home side saw Rodger McBurney and Stuart Morrow cross the line with Michael Graham getting two tries.

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