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Henry in winning return to home club Malone

 

By Michael Sadlier

It was fitting that there was a good outcome from Chris Henry's first game for Malone in what was reckoned to be around 13 years.

The Ulster and Ireland flanker - now in his testimonial year with the province - was returning to his home club, though purely in a playing capacity, as the, soon to be, 34-year-old is no stranger to Gibson Park and has been assisting with coaching the club's forwards for some time now.

His return to playing after shipping a calf injury for Ulster 'A' last month, was also notable in that he was involved in the moves which led to Malone's first two tries and his influence on proceedings was clear as Paddy Armstrong's squad racked up two wins from two when seeing off St Mary's College 18-10.

First-half tries from winger Davy Irvine along with a long-range Callum Smith penalty saw the home side lead 13-3 at the interval in what was a challenging afternoon weather-wise.

And when number eight Ryan Clarke scored two minutes into the new half, it looked as if Malone were on course for a sizeable win and their first try bonus.

However, as with their opening win at Ballymena, Malone failed to get that fourth try and St Mary's had most of the possession in what time remained, though they only got over the home side's line in the last play.

Still, the four points ensured Malone moved up to second, two behind leaders Naas.

Meanwhile, at Rifle Park, Banbridge bagged their first win when rattling off a 24-0 result over Buccaneers.

Bann only led 7-0 after the first 40 minutes thanks to a penalty try before Adam Doherty's penalty stretched things to 10-0.

That became 17-0 when Peter Cromie got over the Buccs' line with Doherty adding the two points and the game ended when Ulster prop Schalk van der Merwe touched down with Doherty again converting.

The Ulster derby between Ballynahinch and City of Armagh turned into a difficult slog, the weather hardly helping, as the game ended with the sides locked together at 3-3.

Cormac Fox's first half penalty edged Armagh ahead and the game remained this finely poised until late on when Richard Reaney managed to dissect the uprights to ensure that both sides gathered up two points -Hinch's first of the campaign.

Ballymena, though, remain rooted to the bottom after two defeats in the same number of games.

They lost 28-3 at Naas after actually taking the lead early on from a Tim Small penalty, his successful kick being the only score they have registered over the course of two games.

Meanwhile, Ulster 'A' completed their Celtic Cup programme in expected fashion with a fourth successive win in the competition.

Kieran Campbell's squad hammered Connacht Eagles 49-12 at the Galway Sportsground in a 'dead rubber' encounter for both sides.

1B: Hinch 3 City of Armagh 3, Banbridge 24 Buccs 0, Malone 18 St Mary's 10, Naas 28 Ballymena 3

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