Disallowed try turning point in Belfast derby as Harlequins fight back
It was a better weekend in Division 1B for Ulster clubs with two of them coming away with what could turn out to be pivotal wins to move away from the lower end of the table, though Malone would hardly concur as they were on the losing side of Saturday's Ulster derby with Belfast Harlequins.
Quins staged a remarkable comeback in the Gibson Park clash as they triumphed 25-15 after trailing 15-3 at the interval.
And, in Dublin, Dungannon halted their recent run of reverses with a 32-21 victory over Blackrock College, which also brought the Tyrone side their first bonus point after they scored four tries.
In Division 1A, Ballynahinch succumbed to their fifth straight defeat, though they again fell to a narrow margin which saw Derek Suffern's men come away from Old Belvedere with another losing bonus point as the Dublin side won 30-26.
At Gibson Park, tries from James McKinney and Rudolph Benade seemed to have put the home side in the driving seat, but a turning point came at the end of the first half when scrum-half Shane Kelly dived over for what appeared to be Malone's third try only for the score to be ruled out and Kelly sent to the bin for kicking an opponent.
From there, though, Quins managed to rack up 22 unanswered points with tries from Euan Strang and Mark Kettyle, while out-half Liam Cambridge ended the day kicking five penalties. His final effort arrived in injury time and it rubbed further salt into Malone's already deep wounds as Cambridge's success denied the home side a losing bonus point.
The result brought Quins back-to-back wins which keeps them in fifth, while Malone slip to ninth.
Dungannon were well worth their second win of the campaign at Blackrock, though they had to resist a strong comeback from their hosts. After trailing early on, Gannon roared back with tries from Peter Nelson and Stephen Sinnamon, while Ulster squad member Adam Macklin made his first appearance of the season following injury and grabbed the visitors' third score to give them a 19-8 half-time lead.
Hooker Paul Jackson crossed for Gannon's bonus point score which gave his side a seemingly unassailable 26-8 lead, but Rock responded and impressively battled back to trail by only five points. Gannon held their nerve, and two penalties by Nelson sealed the result which moves Gannon to seventh in the table.
Hinch were hurt badly by having Michael Cromie and Paul Pritchard both in the bin after tries from David McIlwaine and Stuart Morrow had tucked them right in behind Old Belvedere, who led 18-17 at half-time.
Yet for all that, the Co Down side took the lead from Ritchie Lobb's second penalty and two more strikes from the Kiwi closed the gap with Hinch battering the Belvo line to no avail.