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All Ireland League Rugby: Ballymena suffer double whammy at hands of St Mary's

By Michael Sadlier

It was a thoroughly horrible weekend for all three Ulster clubs in the upper divisions but the most notable reverse came Ballymena's way as they were downed for the first time this campaign.

And not only did the Braidmen's five-game winning run come crashing down at St Mary's College - who triumphed 26-18 - but Andy Graham's men were also deposed from topping the table by their opponents who now have a superior points differential.

Ballymena were even denied a losing bonus point despite outscoring their hosts three tries to two, with the key touchdown, which fatally undermined the Braidmen's cause, coming in the second half when replacement Thomas O'Reilly collected and dotted down from a misplaced kick from his own side.

Mattie Rea, Rodger McBurney and Alan O'Connor had all crossed for Ballymena with the only successful shot at the posts coming Richie McMaster's way when he dropped a goal in the second half. Graham's men will now seek to get things back on track with another away game this weekend, and under lights, at Buccaneers.

Also in Division 1B, bottom of the table Belfast Harlequins succumbed to a sixth straight defeat, away to Dublin University, where the students ran out 26-12 winners.

Quins are now seven points adrift of UL Bohemians and eight off Shannon who they host on Saturday with 'must-win' written all over this clash.

On Saturday - with Ulster players Rory Scholes and Ricky Lutton playing - they managed two tries from Mark Foster and a Scholes conversion while some positivity can be taken from the fact that they at least prevented Trinity from claiming maximum points.

In Division 1A, it was another tale of woe for Ballynahinch, who have also now lost all six outings this season and are already looking in real danger of losing touch with the safety zone unless the slide can be halted.

This time Hinch were seen off 32-23 at Cork Constitution and the Co Down side were unfortunate not to snaffle a losing bonus thanks to the concession of a late penalty.

After a bright enough start, Hinch fell away and their points haul came from Aaron Cairns, Robin Harte and Kyle McCall tries while Sam Windsor kicked a conversion and Chris Quinn two penalties.

Belfast Telegraph


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