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Bonus consoles Hinch on return to top flight


Front foot: Sean O’Hagan goes on the attack for Hinch
Front foot: Sean O’Hagan goes on the attack for Hinch

By Michael Sadlier

It was important to put down a marker on their return to Division 1A, particularly at home, but Ballynahinch fell agonisingly short of their ideal start against Terenure at a weather-beaten Ballymacarn Park.

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With the sides locked together at 19-19, the concession of a scrum penalty ended Hinch's hopes of avoiding an opening-day defeat though they did at least acquire a losing bonus point.

Brian McLaughlin's side had also managed to battle back from trailing 19-6 which may go some way to helping to ease the blow of this loss as Hinch bid to do more than merely survive in the top flight.

Four penalties from the boot of out-half Sean O'Hagan had cut Terenure's lead to 19-12 - the visitors had been 14-6 in front at half-time - before scrum-half Rhys O'Donnell had struck for Hinch's only try.

O'Hagan's conversion had tied the scores before the arrival of the scrum penalty consigned Hinch to defeat.

In 2B, City of Armagh picked up four points from their 13-7 home win over Naas, which was a rare outcome for Ulster sides in the top two divisions.

Indeed, Willie Faloon's squad had been 7-0 down when the sides changed ends and, from there, they ground out the result amid difficult conditions.

Replacement Andrew Smyth's try and conversion from Cormac Fox tied the scores before the latter kicked two more penalties for the victory.

Chris Henry's first AIL game since he took charge at Malone was a less than memorable one as his squad were turned over 27-6 at Highfield.

The Gibson Park side's only points during the game were gathered up from the boot of Callum Smith, who kicked two first-half penalties.

Even then, Malone were 13-6 behind as the second 40 minutes began during which the Cork side pushed on to score their second and third tries.

Banbridge coach Mark McDowell was also overseeing his first AIL game and he, too, had little to enthuse about from the trip to Old Wesley in Dublin.

The decisive moment came with three minutes left on the clock when the game's only try, which was converted, put Wesley 13-3 in front which is how the match ended.

Up to that point Bann had aspirations of, at the very least, snatching a losing bonus point only for those hopes to be dashed.

Full-back Adam Doherty's 30th-minute penalty was the only score Bann managed in the game.

Division 1A: Ballynahinch 19 Terenure 22; Div 1B: City Of Armagh 13 Naas 7, Highfield 27 Malone 6, Old Wesley 13 Banbridge 3.

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