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McMaster's late kick wins cliffhanger for Ballymena

By Michael Sadlier

Almost predictably, it was another mixed bag for the two Ulster clubs in 1B with one winning and the other falling short.

This time it was Ballymena's turn to get the victory as they won by a mere point in dramatic fashion at Galwegians while Hinch, playing at home, frustratingly failed to get the better of UCC. The Braidmen's need to get a positive result had upped the pressure, after they had previously racked up two defeats, but their bonus point victory in Galway, the five points taking Andy Graham's men up into fourth place, was achieved after Ritchie McMaster's injury time penalty saw them win by just 35-34.

How fortunes had changed for the Braidmen as they had missed a late penalty the week before to steal the game against Old Wesley while there was no change for Galwegians who lost out late on when hosting Hinch in the previous round.

After trailing 19-10 at the break, Ballymena showed their resilience by scoring early on in the second half through Adam McBurney, with McMaster's conversion narrowing the home side's lead to just two points.

Shortly afterwards, McMaster - who finished the day kicking 15 points of the Braidmen's total - slotted a penalty and then converted an intercept try scored by Mark Best to give the visitors a 27-19 lead and seemingly complete their comeback.

Galwegians then staged a revival but a Jonny Rossborough try, which brought up the try bonus, put Ballymena back in front at 32-31 only for the home side to kick a penalty which nudged them back into the lead at 34-32.

The stage was then set for McMaster who landed the winning kick after an 83rd minute scrum penalty fell the Braidmen's way.

For Hinch there was no such good fortune as they again lost at Ballymcarn Park as UCC prevailed 15-10, with the defeat - they did take a losing bonus point - bringing up a third reverse from their last four outings.

Hinch had trailed 12-3 at the break and they only managed a penalty try, converted by Chris Quinn, who had kicked a penalty in the first half, on another deeply disappointing day for the Co Down club who are now sixth.

Div 1B: Hinch 10 UCC 15, Dolphin 15 Naas 10, Galwegians 34 Ballymena 35, Old Wesley 22 Buccaneers 49, UL Bohs 14 Shannon 13.

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