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Porter stars as Bann's late surge takes the spoils

 

By Michael Sadlier

It proved to be a memorable introduction to Division 1B for Banbridge who travelled to Limerick and came away from their meeting with UL Bohemians by bagging a hugely encouraging four points.

Dan Soper's squad came from behind to firstly tie the scores at 13-13 and then score a try from the last play of the game when winger Tom Caesar crashed over the home side's line with scrum-half and skipper Ian Porter landing the extras to seal a hugely satisfying 20-13 result.

Porter led the way scoring-wise for the Rifle Park side and the former Ulster and Connacht player ended up amassing 15 points from a try, two conversions and the same number of penalties.

Bann had gone behind early on before Porter's score tied matters at 7-7 and then the visitors found themselves trailing again at the break with Bohs leading 13-7.

But Soper's players - who won the 2A title last season to gain automatic promotion - got back into the game and then took the honours thanks to Caesar's strike.

As for Ballymena, they came away from Old Wesley on the back of a hard-fought 21-18 result. This was made all the more satisfying for Andy Graham's squad as his players trailed 15-3 at half-time and also had to handle the impediment of having only 13 on the pitch.

Former Ulster squad member and flanker Stephen Mulholland had been the first to see yellow on 19 minutes and then, three minutes later, number eight Adrian Hamilton joined him.

Nevertheless, the Braidmen impressively dug in at the start of the second half when current Ulster squad member Callum Patterson got over for a try which was converted by fellow Ulster player Brett Heron.

Then, five minutes before the hour, full-back Rodger McBurney dotted down to tie the scores at 15-15.

From there, Herron was able to land two late penalties to sneak Ballymena ahead and they held on for four very valuable points from being on the road.

Ballynahinch, though, failed to make it a clean sweep for Ulster clubs in the top flight as coach Brian McLaughlin's first AIL game in charge saw the Co Down side lose out 13-6 at Old Belvedere.

Interestingly, McLaughlin was going head-to-head against ex-Ireland supremo Eddie O'Sullivan, with whom the former Ulster coach worked when he acted as skills coach during O'Sullivan's tenure at the national helm.

However, McLaughlin's men were unable to deliver anything more than a losing bonus point from their trip to Dublin.

On a difficult day for the Ballymacarn Park club, with the fifth anniversary of the Spence family tragedy being only the day before, out-half Tim Crossens could just manage two penalties as Hinch were made to rue some missed opportunities in the opening 40 minutes.

Indeed, Ballynahinch, frustratingly, wasted a raft of good chances which saw the sides level at the break and Belvo then sealed it with a late score.

Div 1A: Buccaneers 10 Lansdowne 19, Cork Con 30 Clontarf 18, Dublin University 0 Terenure 24 St Mary's 13 Garryowen 7, Young Munster 20 UCD 39

Div 1B: Dolphin 20 Naas 30, Old Belvedere 13 Ballynahinch 6, Old Wesley 18 Ballymena 21, UCC 16 Shannon 20, UL Bohs 13 Banbridge 20

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