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Pitch proves bonus for Malone

Only two games involving Ulster's top flight clubs survived the weather but, for all that, the journeys south undertaken by Belfast Harlequins and Malone ended in defeat for the Division 1B sides.

Malone, at least, left Limerick with two useful bonus points from their 39-34 loss to UL Bohemians, all the more notable as the game was played on a 4G pitch.

The visitors led 24-17 at half-time in what proved to be an exciting nine-try encounter with the free-flowing rugby doubtless helped by the artificial surface, even though it was unfamiliar to the Gibson Park side.

Centre Mark Gribben scored twice for Malone – one after an impressive long run – while Conor Joyce and skipper Neil Alcorn also crossed the line, with Ulster squad member James McKinney kicking all four conversions and adding two penalties for a personal haul of 14 points.

Malone remain fourth bottom in the table but their two points take them six above the relegation zone which is occupied by Blackrock College and basement side Dungannon, whose game at Stevenson Park against Shannon was a victim of the weather.

Quins are still fifth despite their 24-7 loss at Terenure where the league leaders made it 12 wins from the same number of games as they continue what appears to be their successful push for promotion.

A try from Ulster squad member Ricky Lutton, converted by Liam Cambridge, was all Quins could manage but the final scoreline was hardly an adequate reflection of the game as Quins were clawing their way back into it, thanks to their dominance up front, when that edge was lost as the game went to uncontested scrums.

Meanwhile, while the weather did its worst to cause the cancellation of Ballynahinch's meeting with Old Belvedere in Division 1A, and bottom side Garryowen's win over near neighbours Young Munster will have brought little cheer to Ballymacarn Park even though they have a game in hand.

Garryowen – now with former Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan on board – are a mere two points behind Hinch.

Belfast Telegraph

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