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Hinch hit second as Bann ease worries by beating Braidmen

 

Aaron Cairns
Aaron Cairns

By Michael Sadlier

With three games to go in what is still a largely prediction-defying table, Ballynahinch look to be hitting some form at just the right time.

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Hinch rose a place to second after their seven-try 43-24 thumping of Buccaneers at Dubarry Park and, indeed, are now only behind leaders Old Wesley due to the Dublin club's healthier points differential.

City of Armagh moved up to third after their bonus point 39-21 home triumph over St Mary's College while Banbridge lifted themselves from ninth to sixth to somewhat ease their immediate relegation worries - though they are just two points better off than Buccs in ninth - by beating bottom side Ballymena 31-27 in a tense Ulster derby at Eaton Park which saw Bann winger Conor Field score a hat-trick of tries.

The Braidmen's defeat - their 11th in 15 games - leaves them on the cusp of relegation as they sit 14 off ninth-placed Buccs with a maximum of 15 points available to them.

Malone lost 15-12 at Old Belvedere and their third straight defeat saw the former leaders slip from second to fourth though just four points separate the Gibson Park side from Wesley in top spot.

Hinch had their try bonus wrapped up by half-time at Buccs with scores from Aaron Cairns, George Pringle, Ross Adair and Zack McCall putting them 26-5 up and well on the way to their third win on the bounce.

Three more tries followed as Robin Harte, Paddy Wright and Keith Dickson all got over which, thanks to four conversions from Johnny McPhillips, had Hinch 43-12 ahead before a late rally by the home side.

They had their wobbly moments but there was no denying that Queen's University were good for their six-try 41-22 home win over Nenagh Ormond in Division 2A.

At a blustery Dub, the fourth-placed students took what they hope to be another positive step towards securing a place in the play-offs in the wake of what was, appropriately, their fourth straight bonus point victory.

The aggression of their back-row, with skipper David Whitten, David Swann and number eight James Catterson - who scored two tries - helped create the platform to win.

Their pace and power in the back-line , with Rory Bell, Connor McKee and Mark Keane all shining, meant that Queen's were never likely to give this one up.

They led 27-10 at half-time with Whitten and Brian Cunningham scoring along with Catterson's first and Keane's bonus point try and two more tries followed, Catterson's second and a touchdown for McKee.

In 2B, Rainey Old Boys ended a two-game losing run by prevailing 29-24 at Corinthians to take a winning bonus point and remain in third.

Belfast Harlequins came agonisingly close to being the first side to down leaders Barnhall before losing 20-17.

Mark Glover scored twice as Quins stayed in ninth while Dungannon rose to seventh after beating Sundays Well 20-17.

In 2C, City of Derry defeated Bangor 10-5 at Judges Road to move up to sixth while their visitors dropped to eighth.

Omagh lost 35-12 at Midleton and slipped to fifth.

1B: Ballymena 27 Bann 31, Belvo 15 Malone 12, Armagh 39 St Mary's 21, Buccs 24 Hinch 43

2A: QUB 41 Nenagh 22

2B: Corinthians 24 Rainey 29, Barnhall 20 Quins 17, Gannon 20 Sundays Well 17

2C: Derry 10 Bangor 5, Midleton 35 Omagh 12

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