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Baloucoune at the treble as Hinch earn a vital victory to edge closer to safety

 

Key man: Robert Baloucoune
Key man: Robert Baloucoune

By Michael Sadlier

There could hardly have been a better way for Robert Baloucoune to remind Ulster of what he can do than the hat-trick of tries he produced for Ballynahinch at Dublin University.

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Even better, the 22-year-old's three touchdowns, on what was his first game for Hinch and only his second game this season, also helped Hinch on their way to a dramatic and highly prized result 35-34 away from home.

Indeed this was only Hinch's second victory of the season, and a successive bonus point effort at that, to further assist their bid to escape the lower end of the 1A table after suffering four defeats.

Hinch are now in eighth though they are only three points clear of the bottom.

The narrowness of the final scoreline - even though a combination of Baloucoune and Ulster's Bill Johnston had earlier put Hinch 20-13 up - told its own tale of a game of ebb and flow which was in the balance until Aaron Cairns kicked a late penalty to settle it all.

It was Cairns who had earlier scored Hinch's fourth try though his following conversion still had Brian McLaughlin's side trailing the students by 34-32 after the home side had still managed to take the lead in the wake of Baloucoune's third score.

Then came a scrum penalty and Cairns did the needful for five vital points.

While Hinch rightly celebrated there was notably less cheer to be hand in 1B. All three Ulster representatives were beaten and moved down the table.

City of Armagh suffered the most as they were seen off at home by 40-13 to Old Wesley.

Willie Faloon's squad trailed 12-3 at the break and then fell away badly as Wesley raced ahead to lead 33-6 before Armagh fired another shot.

Their only try came from winger Shea O'Brien and the rest was scored by Cormac Fox who kicked the conversion and two penalties as Armagh slipped to sixth.

Banbridge's bid for a third straight win didn't work out at St Mary's College where they lost a closely fought clash by 16-10.

Bann had led 7-6 thanks to a Peter Cromie try and Adam Doherty conversion but only added another three points in the second half which at least earned them a losing bonus point as they fell one spot to eighth.

Malone also earned themselves a losing bonus point when going down 26-21 at Old Belvedere and they too slipped down one place to seventh.

Malone's try scorers were Clayton Milligan, Peter Cooper and Lewis Finlay.

Div 1A: Dublin University 34 Ballynahinch 35.

Div 1B: Armagh 13 Old Wesley 40, Old Belvedere 26 Malone 21, St Mary's College 16 Banbridge 10.

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