Hinch in to clinch AIL top spot with rout
Yet again, events in Division Two grabbed all the headlines with both Ballynahinch — who now proudly sit top of the table — and Malone stretching their unbeaten run to three games by both registering wins while on their travels.
Ballynahinch’s thumping 46-6 win at Wanderers was another milestone day for the Co Down club as their bonus point victory, allied to Belfast Harlequins’ shock 7-6 win at Bruff, saw ‘Hinch being hoisted into pole position, one point ahead of Malone.
Aaron Ferris scored a hat-trick of tries as ‘Hinch crossed the Wanderers’ line seven times; Stuart Lamb getting two tries while Willie Faloon registered a solitary effort alongside a penalty try. It was also a good day for out half Roger Bambry who added four conversions and a penalty to the total.
In Limerick, Malone full-back Peter Baird dramatically grabbed a match-winning try in the dying moments of the game.
Gareth Fry’s conversion gave his side a three point cushion at 16-13 and there was no time for Thomond, who had led throughout most of the proceedings, to respond.
Not too far away from the scene of Malone’s late steal, Belfast Harlequins also managed to manufacture an unexpected 7-6 win at Bruff.
It took a last gasp breakaway try from Paul McKenzie, converted by Miles O’Hagan, to give Quins the narrowest of wins in a game that was reduced to uncontested scrums for the last quarter.
Elsewhere, it was more misery for bottom side Instonians who slumped to their third straight defeat after being swept aside 25-7 at Clonakilty.
It was another mixed bag of outcomes in the top flight but at least Dungannon managed to register their first win of the campaign thanks to their 15-13 result over struggling UCD at Stevenson Park.
The home side made all the early running with a Derek Hall try and a John McGuckin penalty giving John Andrews’ charges an 8-3 lead at the turnaround.
Dungannon then pushed on from there with a great score from Neil Patterson with the extras being added by McGuckin. The visitors managed a late rally to close the gap to two points, but Dungannon held on for an extremely valuable four points to lift them to twelfth in the table.
Ballymena were also at home but succumbed to their second successive defeat as Galwegians departed Eaton Park 19-5 winners.
Though Ballymena only trailed 7-0 at the turnaround there was no way back for them as the visitors scored twice to build up a 19-0 lead.
Jamie Smith’s late score at least gave the scoreboard something more to do on another miserable afternoon for Jacques Benade and his squad which now finds Ballymena sitting a mere three points ahead of bottom side Terenure.