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Ballymena return to winning ways in ruthless style

By Michael Sadlier

Ballymena were the only Ulster side to get what they had been hoping for from the weekend's games in the top two divisions and their 43-15 bonus point thumping of Shannon at Eaton Park moved them back into second in the table.

The Braidmen scored six tries in total with Tim Small and Sean Taylor getting two each with the balance being made up with touchdowns from Stephen Mulholland and Ulster squad member Ricky Andrew.

Coach Andy Graham's men - who had lost their previous two games - led 14-3 at the turnaround and with the visitors having been reduced to 14 men after Rory O'Donnell was shown a red card early in the first half, Ballymena made their man advantage count and turned on the afterburners in the second 40 minutes.

However, despite the Braidmen's efforts they trail leaders Galwegians by seven points after the Connacht side also bagged maximum points in their 31-19 victory over bottom side Belfast Harlequins.

Quins had made the brighter start, on this their second successive week in Galway, and they led 12-10 at the half-time interval thanks to tries from David McMaster and Mark Glover but the home team put the squeeze on the visitors after the resumption and ultimately took the win and try bonus.

Michael Allen managed a late try for the Belfast side who have now, worryingly, only won on two occasions in their last eight games.

Malone also tasted defeat when losing 16-12 to Garryowen at Gibson Park but they did at least come away with a losing bonus point.

Tries from Josh Pentland and Ben McDonnell managed to bring the home side their point, though the game was finely poised with the scoreline reading 13-12 until a late Garryowen penalty made sure of the victory, while there was some controversy as Malone also had two touchdowns disallowed by the referee.

In Division 1A, Ballynahinch came unstuck at Clontarf with the Dublin side prevailing 27-16 in another disappointing outcome for the Co Down outfit who have now suffered two defeats and picked up a draw from their last three outings.

Hinch battled back into the game and scored their only try of the encounter through hooker Jonny Murphy.

Clontarf, however, ended the first half leading 24-10 and ultimately denied Derek Suffern's squad a losing bonus point even though Chris Quinn kicked 11 points for his side as the visitors slipped to seventh in the standings.

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