Young Munster jump to third in table by beating Ballynahinch
All Ireland League round-up: Dublin University record third straight win in Division 1B
Buccaneers’ Alan Gaughan tries to get the ball down despite the attentions of Harlequins’ Junior Bulumakau in the Division 1B encounter in Belfast on Saturday. Photograph: Matt Mackey/Inpho
It could be a season-defining result for the Cookies as they are now third in the table, with their latest Ulster Bank League victory seeing them leapfrog over five clubs including defending champions Clontarf.
The Limerick side set a cracking pace and dominated the early exchanges. A strong scrum — with Munster development prop Martin Kelly making his first start of the campaign — led to Gearoid Lyons booting them in front.
The Young Munster pack continued to dictate matters as a 23rd minute rolling maul set up hooker Ger Slattery for the game’s opening try, which centre Lyons converted for 10-0.
Winger Steve Macauley hit back with a well-worked converted try, scoring against his former club, but barely four minutes later the hosts were celebrating again with Ed O’Keeffe finishing smartly in the corner. Lyons’ conversion attempt came back off the woodwork.
The nip and tuck nature of the game was evident when Ballynahinch, with their confidence high from wins over Lansdowne and St. Mary’s, scored eight unanswered points before the break to get back level at 15-all.
The Cookies’ defence gave way as full-back Steven Honey touched down and centre Richard Reaney notched a late penalty to tie things up. However, Staunton’s side recovered well to take control of the third quarter, aided by a terrific seven-pointer from out-half Willie Staunton.
A couple of sin-binnings really hurt ‘Hinch and Young Munster’s well-drilled forwards made them pay with a penalty try following a series of scrums. Lyons added the extras to the bonus point score, making it 29-15.
The County Down outfit gained some late consolation with an injury-time from flanker Michael Graham, but the lack of a conversion saw them miss out on a losing bonus point.
Meanwhile, in Division 1B, eight points from the boot of out-half Jack McDermott proved key at College Park as Dublin University withstood a late charge from Shannon to secure their third straight victory of the campaign (13-7).
Ballymena’s five-match winning run was ended by a 13-7 defeat to Malone in a hard-fought Ulster derby at Eaton Park, and in the process the Braidmen lost top spot to Galwegians. Malone centre Josh Pentland made the difference with eight points off the kicking tee.
Buccaneers put their indifferent recent form behind them with a rewarding 20-7 triumph away to Belfast Harlequins. The Pirates ended a two-match losing streak at Deramore Park, opening with a significant 17-0 half-time lead thanks to prop Jacob Walshe’s try and four Alan Gaughan penalties.
‘Quins closed the gap to 10 points with a converted try from out-half Mark Best. However, Buccs made certain of the points when replacement Ross Keller clipped over a 78th minute penalty.