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Braidmen look sharp as they take derby win

By Michael Sadlier

At least the Ulster derby in Division 1B at Deramore lived up to its pre-match billing as a close-fought affair with Ballymena prevailing over Belfast Harlequins while, down in Galway, Malone succumbed to their first taste of defeat, albeit with a bonus point.

And up in 1A, Ballynahinch nailed their first win of the campaign to at least bring two of the four Ulster clubs in the top divisions the return they were seeking from the outset.

Newly promoted Ballymena continued their good start by coming away with a 22-14 victory away to Quins which now sees them second in the table after two wins.

The Braidmen led 10-9 at the turnaround after flanker Stephen Mulholland charged down an attempted clearance from Roger Kirkwood with Tim Small's conversion – he had earlier landed a penalty – nudging the visitors in front after Quins had earlier slotted three penalties from Eamon Lane.

Quins though hit back soon after the restart when Ulster squad member Sean Reidy scored an unconverted touchdown but with the Braidmen bringing on the experienced heads of Bryan Young and Ian Caldwell, Andy Graham's side gradually took control.

Small then stepped up to score twice with the Ballymena out-half converting both of his own scores to end the day with his own 17-point haul.

Malone had always known that Corinthians at home would be a very different outfit than the one beaten 20-0 by Ballymena at Eaton Park in the league's first weekend of action and so it proved as the Connacht side prevailed 29-24.

Instead, the Belfast side – who had opened their campaign with a home victory over Buccaneers – had to make do with a losing bonus point.

Tries from Michael Barker and John Burns helped Malone's cause though coach Jacques Benade will be less than pleased at seeing his side concede five touchdowns.

Malone's other points came courtesy of Josh Pentland's boot and he kicked 14 points from a conversion and four penalties.

In Division 1A, Ballynahinch defeated Old Belvedere 13-8 and gave coach Derek Suffern the response he was seeking after their opening defeat at Terenure.

Though the scoreline was by no means convincing, Hinch took the four points at Ballymacarn Park through Ross Adair's try along with a conversion and two penalties from Ulster squad member Stuart McCloskey.

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