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Harlequins taste derby delight to keep in the hunt for move up

AIL Divisions 1B and Two

By Michael Sadlier

With time running out the possibility of nailing down a promotion place is currently exercising the thoughts of several Ulster clubs in Division Two with Ballymena, Belfast Harlequins and now Queen’s University all jockeying for position in a crowded-looking market.

It’s certainly congested at the top end of the table where only two automatic promotion places still remain — UCD and Ballynahinch are already promoted — with third-placed Bective Rangers also very much in the mix.

‘Quins were the main Ulster beneficiaries from the weekend with their 22-20 derby win over fellow promotion chasers Ballymena at Eaton Park keeping the Deramore outfit in the battle to make next season’s Division 1B.

A 15-10 interval lead, thanks to tries from Neil McComb and Adam Macklin along with a penalty and conversion from Niall O’Connor, was then built on by ‘Quins with a penalty try and subsequent conversion from O’Connor before the Braidmen hit back with Andy Kerr’s late score.

However, the result keeps ‘Quins in fifth spot though one place and a point behind Ballymena thanks to the Braidmen’s losing bonus, with two to play for Adam Larkin’s squad which just happen to both be Ulster derbies against fellow promotion hopefuls Queen’s and then Malone.

As for Ballymena, they still have a game in hand though they have to travel to Corinthians and then Old Wesley before finishing up at Eaton Park against Terenure with all three of their games against clubs out of the push for promotion.

Meanwhile, at the Dub, Queen’s kept their bid to squeeze into the top four on track in another closely fought Ulster derby as the students sneaked past Malone 21-20.

It took a late penalty from Ian Porter to give Queen’s the four points in a game which lowly Malone might have got more from after leading 17-5 at half time before then being punished when Neil Alcorn was binned.

Also in Division Two, already promoted Ballynahinch whacked lowly Old Crescent 46-17 to register their 11th try bonus.

Meanwhile, up in Division 1B Dungannon completed a league double over Buccaneers with a late charge to secure a 17-14 win at Dubarry Park thanks to a 75th minute Rowan Halshall try.

With automatic promotion now gone for ‘Gannon they can still secure a play-off spot by finishing third.

But the challenge remains a daunting one as they must beat UCC at Stevenson Park in their final game with a bonus point while UL Bohemians are beaten at Galwegians and then only if there are no losing bonus points from Lansdowne’s clash with Buccaneers to decide who goes up with Clontarf.

Belfast Telegraph


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