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Losing bonus is of little comfort for Ulster trio

By Michael Sadlier

All three Ulster clubs were desperate to record a victory - but the trio were left disappointed.

Though Ballynahinch in Division 1A, and Ballymena and Belfast Harlequins in 1B, all lost by the narrowest of margins - and managed to obtain a losing bonus point - each had their own compelling reasons to have wanted to collect all four.

In 1B, Ballymena needed to halt a two-game losing run to stay in close touch at the top of the table but they succumbed again, this time 18-16 at Blackrock College.

Richie McMaster topped the Braidmen's points scoring with three penalties and the conversion of a penalty try in an arm-wrestle which saw Ballymena's forward dominance negated by the introduction of uncontested scrums for most of the second-half.

The result saw Andy Graham's men stay in play-off contention in third but they are now 11 points adrift of leaders St Mary's College with four regulation games to play.

Basement side Quins also suffered the heartache of a 23-22 reverse at Dolphin with the losing bonus point little consolation as ninth-placed UL Bohemians won on Friday night.

It means Quins' chances of escaping the drop look all but over. They sit 14 points behind Bohs, who they need to overtake just to secure a play-off for survival.

With only four games to go, Quins look down and out though, until mathematically unavoidable, Adam Larkin's squad will doubtless keep fighting. Ollie Loughead and Andrew McPhllips tries, along with a penalty try, two conversions and a Ben Sloan penalty, took Quins close.

In 1A, Ballynahinch's hopes of escaping the drop took a hit as they lost 7-6 at Young Munster.

Two Chris Quinn penalties were all the Co Down side registered and, after Terenure's victory on Friday, Hinch are now five back from the Dublin side with four matches to play.

Belfast Telegraph


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