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Six-try Hinch pile on the points to take top spot from Shannon


By Michael Sadlier

Ballynahinch's excellent form produced a notable spin-off for them over the weekend as they now sit top of Division 1B after hammering Shannon at Ballymacarn Park.

The result was all the more satisfying as Hinch's victory meant that they even took the Limerick side's place as leaders.

Hinch ran in six tries to trounce Shannon 42-15 but the Co Down club were by no means alone in having reason to be pleased with their work, as Ballymena stopped the rot to beat Old Belvedere 25-16 while Banbridge also bounced back from last week's narrow defeat at Old Wesley to edge things at home to Dolphin.

Two tries from Conor Kelly along with solitary touchdowns from Johnny McPhillips, Rory Butler, Zack McCall and Stuart Morrow ensured that Brian McLaughlin's men certainly backed-up the previous weekend's workmanlike win at UCC in some style and even took five points for their efforts as well.

Hinch reached the halfway stage of the campaign by really hitting their straps against Shannon, who had only lost one game before last Saturday, though this week's Ulster 'A' game looks sure to hit the Co Down side very hard for the return encounter with potentially up to seven of their starters being drafted in for the third round of the British and Irish Cup.

McPhillips led the scoring for Hinch, who were ahead 14-8 at the turnaround, and finished up with 17 points from a try and all six conversions.

The mood also pretty upbeat for Ballymena who put the brakes on what had been a thoroughly dispiriting losing sequence - they had just tasted victory once in seven AIL games before last weekend - when they got the win over Old Belvedere at Eaton Park.

The Braidmen had found themselves down in ninth before the game with Belvo and so no better time for them to change their fortunes when scoring three tries to see off the Dubliners 25-16 before this week's trip south.

Two second half tries from Rodger McBurney to sit alongside Angus Kernohan's first half effort - the Braidmen trailed 8-7 after the first 40 minutes - put Andy Graham's squad in a good position to snare a crucial result which also brought them up a place to eighth in the table.

Bann coach Dan Soper got the reaction he had wanted from his players in getting the result, but the home side just made it over the line by 26-25 in their clash with basement team Dolphin.

No doubt the irony of their narrow win wasn't lost on Bann a week on after they had been on the receiving end by being beaten at Wesley by a solitary point.

The Rifle Park team also nailed a bonus point to take them back to third after Andrew Morrison and Ulster squad member Rob Lyttle - who had been a spare man with the senior side in Newport the previous evening - both managed a brace of tries with scrum-half Ian Porter weighing in with three important conversions to just keep Soper's squad ahead at the final whistle.

Div 1B: Ballymena 25 Old Belvedere 16, Ballynahinch 42 Shannon 15, Banbridge 26 Dolphin 25, Naas 30 Old Wesley 25, Bohs 15 UCC 22

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