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Queen's win again and make the grade for showdown


Peter Dunlop
Peter Dunlop

By Michael Sadlier

They had to battle hard to make it six wins on the spin, and secure their top four place, but this was maybe no bad thing for Queen's University.

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Winning 24-17 over Highfield - the Cork side already having promotion secured to 1B - at the Dub will have given the students a useful wake-up call in 2A as they prepare for the rigours of the play-offs.

And with a trip to Buccaneers looking the fourth-placed students' likely fate, a much more accurate effort will be needed if Queen's - who also shipped two yellow cards over the course of the game - are to avoid exiting the play-offs at the first hurdle.

They led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter following tries from the strong-running centre Rory Bell and a wonderfully executed move - which included a kick-pass as an assist from Johnny Hunter - which ended with winger Mark Keane scoring.

Andy McGrath's try came nine minutes later with Richie McMaster's third conversion putting the students 21-5 ahead.

With Queen's struggling to put something further together, and under some pressure up front, that became 21-17 early in the second half before McMaster's late penalty eased the pressure on the home side. In 2B, Belfast Harlequins mangled Sundays Well 54-19 in Cork to ensure that victory, when they host ninth-placed Corinthians on Saturday, will see Quins dodge the drop zone.

Quins scored seven tries with Mark Glover managing a brace, while Peter Dunlop, Connor Young, Rory Winters, James McConnell and Jona Siri all crossed to allow the Deramore squad rise from ninth to sixth and send their hosts down to 2C.

Dungannon, in eighth, lost 25-22 at home to Sligo and need to beat fellow strugglers Skerries on Saturday while Quins could also provide very useful assistance by seeing off Corinthians and ensuring the Connacht club end up in ninth.

Rainey Old Boys made sure of third place, and a play-off semi-final at Greystones, by hammering Wanderers 49-3 in Dublin.

Oisin Quinn bagged two tries and in between time Rainey worked Mickey O'Neill, Andrew Donaghy, Mattie Millar and Conor Fitzsimons over the home side's line as well as being awarded a penalty try .

In 2C, fifth-placed Omagh lost 38-24 at Malahide but snaffled a try bonus - prop Mark Smyth crossing twice - as the Accies fought back from looking down and out when trailing 31-0.

Stewart McCain and Ryan Mitchell also scored in the Accies' comeback in a clash where they also managed to deal with being shown two yellow cards

The Tyrone side still have an outside chance of finishing fourth and making the play-offs for the second year running but will need to win at home over league champions Ballina and hope that Bruff slip up when hosting Midleton who are already assured of second.

Also in 2C, City of Derry ensured their safety for another season after beating Bruff 27-19 and rising to sixth.

Bangor, however, lost for a 10th straight time and are in deep trouble.

The north Down side are now ninth after losing 21-10 at bottom team Thomond and must beat Malahide to have any chance of escaping the looming danger.

2A: QUB 24 Highfield 17 2B: Wanderers 3 Rainey 49, Gannon 22 Sligo 25, Well 19 Quins 54 2C: Thomond 21 Bangor 10, Derry 27 Bruff 19, Malahide 38 Omagh 24.

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