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Ballymena and Malone open season in ideal fashion with weekend wins

By Michael Sadlier

After all the aspirations expressed over achieving ideal starts, only two of four Ulster clubs in the top two divisions managed to see their hopes through to fruition with Division 1B's Malone and Ballymena registering victories.

However, the going proved to be rather more difficult in Division 1A for Ballynahinch while, in 1B, Belfast Harlequins also lost out, albeit narrowly, at UL Bohemians.

At Gibson Park, Malone delivered what coach Jacques Benade would have wanted as they defeated Buccaneers 29-11.

Two tries from Andy Bryans and one, right at the death, from Michael Barker helped Malone on their way while Josh Pentland kicked four penalties and a conversion. The home side only led 13-8 at the turnaround, but Benade's men were able to take the scoreboard beyond their opponents.

Ballymena marked their return to Division 1B in some style in front of the Eaton Park faithful with a convincing 20-0 result over another Connacht side with Corinthians feeling the full force of coach Andy Graham's strong side with Ulster's Clive Ross and Mike McComish making up two thirds of an impressive back row.

Two tries from scrum-half Dave Shanahan alongside one from prop Adie Kirkpatrick gave Ballymena 10 of their final total while Richie McMaster converted one and added a solitary penalty.

Graham's squad will now travel to Deramore in good heart where they meet Quins in what will be quite an Ulster derby encounter.

Unfortunately for Quins, though, things failed to work out quite the way they would have planned down in Limerick as Bohs came back to snatch the game 22-19 at Thomond Park while the visitors were also hit by an ankle injury to Ulster squad member Rory Scholes.

Frank Taggart crossed for Quins' only try while the remainder of their total came from the boots of Mark Best, with one penalty, and Eamon Lane who converted Taggart's score and slotted three other penalties.

Unfortunately for Quins, the concession of three tries did huge damage to their cause and they had to make do with a losing bonus point.

Up in the top flight, Hinch travelled to Terenure and were beaten 32-20 by the newly promoted Dublin side.

Ross Adair and Richard Reaney scored for Hinch while Chris Quinn got two penalties and both conversions.

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