Belfast Harlequins hold nerve in dramatic derby as Malone implode
Not for the first time, the Ulster derby played out between Malone and Belfast Harlequins was packed full of incident and drama.
And also not for the only time, the hosts of the game were left wondering just how it was that they had managed to let the four points go with Malone's Josh Pentland managing to miss a penalty from pretty much in front of the sticks which would have secured the result.
As it was, Quins held on 20-19 to gratefully grab their first win of the season after suffering two straight defeats. It was nip and tuck throughout with the scores tied 7-7 at half-time though Malone, who lost Conor Joyce after he picked up a second yellow card, will be the ones doing the soul-searching this week as not only did they finish with 14 men but Pentland also missed other kicks which, on another day, he might have slotted.
So, the losing bonus point is scant reward for the Gibson Park side who also outscored their guests by three tries to two with full-back Rory Campbell crossing for a hat-trick of touchdowns.
Campbell even converted one with Pentland managing the other while, for Quins, returning Ulster prop Ricky Lutton came off the bench to go over for their crucial try with second row Stuart Currie bagging the other earlier on.
Eamon Lane kicked two penalties and a conversion with the other two points coming from David McMaster's conversion for a win that still keeps Quins in eighth.
Elsewhere, Ballymena stayed in second after their 24-12 home bonus point win over Dublin University brought the Eaton Park side a third straight victory.
Sean Taylor led the scoring with two tries closely followed by Tim Small who ended up with a try and two conversions. David Shanahan made up the difference by scoring Ballymena's other touchdown
Up in Division 1A, Ballynahinch had to content themselves with a losing bonus point after Cork Constitution prevailed 23-16 at Temple Hill with Richard Reaney's late penalty – his second of the game – earning them their point.
Kyle McCall and Stephen McAuley got Hinch's tries as the Co Down side slipped two places to eighth.