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Belfast Harlequins cut adrift after Cashel defeat

By Michael Sadlier

It was hard not to feel for Belfast Harlequins who now find themselves alone and somewhat adrift in the Division 2A basement.

Even though their clash with fellow strugglers Cashel had been an encounter with little quality to recommend it, the fact that Quins got nothing from the game was a cruel blow.

After being under the pump for what seemed virtually the whole of a chilly Saturday afternoon at Deramore, against an also fairly limited Cashel, the error-strewn home side had somehow found the inner resolve to break the siege late on and close the lead from what had been a 10-point gap to to just three with the scoreboard reading 17-14.

Tim Emerson’s 70th minute try, at the posts, along with Ewan Strang’s conversion had put them into losing bonus point terrritory as well as even giving them a sniff of possible victory.

In fairness, the bonus point would have been well deserved not only for their comeback but also for the sterling defensive work that Andrew Gillespie’s men had shown throughout that difficult opening 20 minutes of the second half - when they conceded 10 points - after the sides had been locked together at 7-7 at the break.

But it wasn’t to be with Cashel scoring with four minutes left and then Strang’s long range penalty - a shot at still snaffling a losing bonus point - sailed wide in the game’s final act as Quins already knew they were falling to their fifth defeat from six games.

“We just made too many mistakes at key moments,” said a dejected Gillespie whose side conceded an early and arguably harsh penalty try and also fluffed two kickable penalties.

“That was disappointing. Lack of composure is probably how I’d describe it.”

“We’re butchering opportunities and that along with too many mistakes are what is killing us.

“We were beaten by a team who were much more experienced and were more composed.

“The panic button hasn’t been hit yet and there will be opportunities along the road to come which we have to take,” added the coach.

Elsewhere in 2A, Banbridge were surprisingly beaten for the first time this season when Nenagh turned them over 25-5 though Bann are still top on points differential from their conquerors. Malone were also defeated going down badly at Corinthians by 46-3.

In 2B, leaders Armagh are six from six after beating Old Crescent 21-9, but Dungannon were horribly undone at Wanderers by 41-7 and bottom side City of Derry were pummelled 29-3 at Bective.

Bangor kept things going in the right direction in 2C after their narrow 17-12 win at Kanturk. But leaders Rainey Old Boys tumbled to their second straight loss after Navan beat them 17-13 at Hatrick Park.

Div 2A: Blackrock 29 Highfield 21, Belfast Harlequins 14 Cashel 22, Nenagh 25 Banbridge 5, Corinthians 46 Malone 3

Div 2B: Armagh 21 Old Cresent 9, Bective 29 City of Derry 3, Thomond 12 Skerries 6, Wanderers 41 Dungannon 7

Div 2C: Boyne 13 Sligo 15, Bruff 12 Tullamore 15, Kanturk 12 Bangor 17, Midleton 17 Seapoint 19, Rainey 13 Navan 17

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