Ulster teams rewarded only with a bonus
The defeats just keep coming as the Ulster clubs in the AIL's top two divisions signed off until the New Year with all four sides – diluted somewhat by the Ulster Ravens – again finishing second on the scoreboard though, yet again, Ballynahinch, Belfast Harlequins and Malone all snaffled bonus points.
In Division 1A, Hinch defied the pre-match odds to come agonisingly close to downing leaders Clontarf before losing out 16-12 at Ballymacarn Park.
Indeed, Hinch – with Ritchie Lobb kicking four penalties – had the winning of this one but were ultimately undone after Dominic Gallagher's second half sin-binning assisted Clontarf in performing their escape act with David Joyce's late penalty also rubbing further salt into Hinch's wounds.
The losing bonus point, though, could prove to be of huge value for ninth-placed Hinch.
Meanwhile, Malone were again denied the chance to dodge a seventh consecutive defeat when Shannon managed to escape from Gibson Park with a 19-18 win.
Their pain was hardly lessened after failing to score after being camped on the visitors' line for the last five minutes with Mark Gribben's penalty – from the final kick of the game – sailing wide.
It was always going to be a big ask for Malone after they trailed the Limerick side 19-6 at half-time, but they upped their game and scored tries from Tom Patton and Michael Barker – with Gribben converting the latter – but could not add to the scoring.
And the fallout for Jacques Benade's squad was considerable as Malone are now bottom.
Belfast Harlequins fell to their second successive defeat and again managed to concede a late score which this time saw Corinthians leave Deramore 21-19 winners. All Quins' points came from Liam Cambridge.
Meanwhile, Dungannon came up against leaders Terenure College in Dublin and the Tyrone side were tanked 60-7 and drop to ninth place in the table.