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Reaney's last-gasp drop goal sees Hinch sit top of the table

By Michael Sadlier

It always had the look of a home win about it and so it turned out with Ballynahinch triumphing 28-13 to rack up an AIL double over struggling Ballymena.

Just when it looked as if Hinch would end up sharing the spoils at Naas, up stepped Richard Reaney to deliver a last-minute drop goal to secure the 27-24 win which took them from second to top of the table.

With Shannon drawing at Banbridge, the five points Hinch gathered up at Naas put Brian McLaughlin's in-form side two points ahead of the Munster men with five games to play.

And Hinch got their win the hard way as their 17-7 half-time lead was whittled away by Naas who fought back to lead 21-17 before a final flurry of scoring locked the sides together at 24-24 with winger Reaney picking his moment right at the end.

First half tries from Reaney, who ended up scoring 12 points, Ulster lock Pete Browne and back-rower Conal Boomer had given Hinch their interval lead and they only picked up their try bonus from former Ulster prop Jerry Cronin after Naas had stolen into their 21-17 lead.

Reaney's conversion put Hinch 24-21 up but a Naas penalty then brought the sides together for what looked a certain draw until that dramatic drop goal.

At Rifle Park, Banbridge came from behind to share the spoils 15-15 with Shannon with an injury time penalty try ensuring Dan Soper's third-placed squad are still looking very much on for a top four finish. It was a hard-fought encounter against the Limerick side and Bann trailed 10-3 early in the second half.

They had opened the scoring early on with an Ian Porter penalty but had then conceded a 27th-minute converted try which allowed Shannon lead 7-3 after the opening half.

That became 10-3 after a Conor Fitzgerald penalty before Bann worked winger Adam Ervine over for an unconverted try. Shannon then missed two penalties and failed to convert a late try prior to shipping a yellow card near the end.

Bann responded and the penalty try - and automatic conversion - came their way.

After beating Shannon at home last week, Ballymena were badly mauled at UCC with the students winning 58-12 which now sees the Braidmen slip a place to ninth in the table.

1B: Banbridge 15 Shannon 15, Dolphin 13 Old Wesley 13, Naas 24v Hinch 27, UCC 58 Ballymena 12, UL Bohs 34 Old Belvo 19.

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