Belfast Harlequins cruise past Malone to ease fears of the drop
Belfast Harlequins took all that they could from their derby clash with Malone at a gale-chilled Deramore with their bonus point 32-12 victory considerably boosting their hopes of avoiding the drop after it lifted them from being bottom to seventh.
Having said that there are only two points between Quins and UL Bohemians and Corinthians, the sides in ninth and 10th respectively, so Adam Larkin's squad are by no means out of the woods yet.
Nevertheless, they had plenty of reason to celebrate after their second maximum point victory in three games in an encounter which has very much dragged Malone - in sixth and also on 20 points - back into the scramble to avoid the drop.
Quins had things pretty much wrapped up at half-time at which stage they already led 24-7 and had the bonus point secured in this their second triumph over the Gibson Park side in the league.
The home side went on to score five tries with props Charlie Sargison and Mark McGrath getting over followed by touchdowns from Mark Glover, Neil McComb and Mark Wylie while Michael Heaney kicked two conversions and a penalty.
Malone's tries came from Josh Pentland and Rory Campbell with Neil Burns converting the former's effort in what was a hugely disappointing display.
Meanwhile, in Dublin, Ballymena were unable to halt Dublin University's winning streak which has now stretched to nine games after the students dramatically triumphed with the last play of the game to prevail 18-16.
Though the Braidmen still acquired a losing bonus point, this reverse has seen their promotion hopes ship some damage as they slipped from second to fourth though they are still just four off leaders Galwegians.
Up in Division 1A, Ballynahinch kept their unbeaten home record intact and also secured a bonus point in their 34-13 home win over Cork Constitution.
Adam Craig scored a hat-trick of tries and Ross Adair got one touchdown while Chris Quinn converted all four and added two penalties as Hinch moved into fifth, one place shy of the play-offs.
"We played very well but we know we have got to back it up away from home," Hinch coach Derek Suffern said.