Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Campbell tees it up for Malone to lead the charge


Lone score: JJ McKee got the only try for Ballymena against Armagh
Lone score: JJ McKee got the only try for Ballymena against Armagh

By Michael Sadlier

The table still looks pretty good from an Ulster perspective as four of the top five spots are occupied by clubs north of the border, even though only new leaders Malone and City of Armagh tasted victory.

Rugby round up Newsletter

Game previews, plus expert insights and exclusive commentary from the Belfast Telegraph sports team.

For Malone, it proved to be a real nerve-jangler as they hit the top of the table - though Naas are just a point behind them - from their 24-23 result at Buccaneers with Rory Campbell's conversion of Callum Smith's 61st minute try proving to be the winning of the game.

Not a bad way to head into the division's break, until later in the month, from what was a tense affair in Connacht.

Malone had scored first half tries through Ben McCaughey and Dan Kerr but had trailed 16-14 as the sides changed ends and had just about kept in touch as Buccs pushed on to lead 23-17 with just under half an hour to play.

Then with the home side having a player in the bin, Malone worked Smith over with Campbell's conversion holding the key for Paddy Armstrong's men who had Ulster's Ross Kane and Stewart Moore in their ranks.

Armagh took four points from their Ulster derby at struggling Ballymena, Willie Faloon's side coming away 22-13 winners.

The win meant Armagh rose two places to fourth though bottom side Ballymena now look in real trouble after just one win in five outings.

Armagh led 15-0 at half-time and, though the Braidmen got on the scoreboard in the second half, the visitors secured the spoils.

Tries from Andrew Willis, Ryan Purvis and Robbie Whitten accompanied by two conversions and a penalty from Cormac Fox got them there.

"It was a dream start for us," said Armagh coach Faloon.

"We nearly faltered half way through the second half but I'm happy with the result.

"We're a little bit inconsistent but as we're up two leagues in the last two seasons I can't complain and if we continue this way I'll be happy enough," he added after his side's second victory in five games.

As for the Braidmen, they needed something from this home game but left empty-handed.

They now trail Buccs by two and are five points behind Old Wesley in the safety zone of eighth.

Lock JJ McKee got Ballymena's only try while Tim Small kicked the conversion and two penalties.

Banbridge had been leading going into the weekend but tripped up at home to Old Wesley.

The Dubliners won 15-8 and though Bann earned a losing bonus point they slipped to third.

Trailing 12-0, Conor Field's unconverted first half try put them back in the game but all the home side registered in the second 40 minutes was a solitary Adam Doherty penalty.

Ballynahinch - now fifth - also tasted defeat as they went down 27-14 at Naas.

It could have looked worse for the Co Down side as James Simpson's try, and Richard Reaney's conversion, came with two minutes left.

Their only other score came in the first half - which saw Hinch only trail 12-7 - when Aaron Cairns got over.

1B: Ballymena 13 Armagh 22, Bann 8 Wesley 15, Buccs 23 Malone 24, Naas 27 Hinch 14.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph