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Suffern's relief as Ballynahinch lift survival bid

By Michael Sadlier

Published 01/02/2016

Holding on: Ballymena’s Conor Smyth tackles Rory Maloney
Holding on: Ballymena’s Conor Smyth tackles Rory Maloney

Ballynahinch's struggles at the foot of Division 1A were somewhat lessened after they secured an absolutely essential victory at fellow relegation battlers Terenure College as the Co Down side continue their fight for survival in the top flight.

The four points earned in Hinch's weather-blasted 20-9 success at Lakelands sees Derek Suffern's squad move to within a point of ninth-placed Terenure and - though the Dublin team have a game in hand - this was still the ideal moment to deliver a first win away from home.

The visitors showed they meant business from the first whistle and, with the gale, scored all their points to lead 20-3 at half-time thanks to tries from David McGuigan and Jordan Grattan with two conversions and penalties from Chris Quinn and then held firm when the pressure came on in the second-half.

"We totally deserved it and I haven't seen them fight so hard for it," said a relieved coach Suffern as Hinch are now in with a chance of escaping automatic relegation place from finishing bottom.

"At the moment, we're not thinking about getting any higher than ninth place (which ultimately means a play-off with a side from 1B) and now we just need to back this win up against Cork Constitution at home on Saturday."

In 1B, Ballymena's bid to finish top of the league suffered a heavy blow when they lost for only the second time this campaign after Buccaneers left Eaton Park 30-25 to the good.

The second-placed Braidmen managed a losing bonus point but Dublin University are now just a point behind while leaders St Mary's College - who are five in front of Ballymena - are up next at Eaton Park in what is clearly a must-win encounter against a side who beat them in Dublin earlier in the season.

Elsewhere in 1B, Belfast Harlequins suffered the indignity of being hammered 40-0 at Shannon which will have doubtless done severe damage to their hopes of climbing off the bottom of the table.

Belfast Telegraph

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