Ulster Premiership D1.
Final Score: Ballynahinch 45 Malone 18.
James Kirk reports from Ballymacarn Park
Ballynahinch earned a second consecutive bonus point win to maintain pace with Queens at the top of the Ulster Premiership after pulling away from a competitive Malone side in the final quarter writes James Kirk.
Adam Craig made a few changes with ex-Malone out half Jack Milligan starting at outhalf and Ryan Wilson slotting into midfield. The tight five had a shake up with starts for Ben Cullen, Kelvin Hamilton and and veteran lock James Simpson.
Gareth Gill also made a long-awaited return to the senior squad following a bad knee injury. The weather was perfect for running rugby and both sides were well supported from the sidelines.
A frenetic first half resulted in just a penalty to each side as defences held firm amidst a lack of accuracy in attack from both sides. Ballynahinch were playing into the clubhouse for the second half and showed their intent with a try straight after half time from full-back Paddy Wright.
Milligan was involved twice in the move after an excellent carry from Kyle McCall. Malone hit straight back to level the score at ten apiece before slick handling from Callum Irvine put winger Ronan Patterson over.
The lead was again shortlived as a superb long pass put the prolific Rory Campbell in for a Malone try and the game was in the balance at 17-15 to the home side heading into the last twenty minutes.
After a sustained period of pressure Ballynahinch took a decisive grip on the game with a close range Simpson score which Malone could only counter with another penalty.
The next score looked crucial in the context of the result and it was duly provided by the talismanic Aaron Cairns to take his team thirteen points clear. Needing two converted tries to claim an unlikely victory the away side were punished in the final few minutes as the game opened up.
Olly Loughead scored a classic flanker’s try with a superb support line getting him on the end of a move started by a brilliant chip and gather from scrum-half Chris Gibson and a great show and go from Greg Hutley took him under the posts to complete an excellent victory.
This weekend the side travel to City of Armagh and will be hoping to avenge consecutive last second defeats against an always formidable opponent. All support is welcome.
Ballynahinch 1st-20 B Cullen, K Hamilton, K McCall, T Donnan, J Simpson, D Vidal, O Loughead, C Irvine, C Gibson, J Milligan, A Cairns, R Butler, R Wilson, R Patterson, P Wright, C Piper, J Blair, G Gill, R Meharg, G Hutley.