Riley Winter helps Ballynahinch get back to winning ways against Shannon
BALLYNAHINCH got back to winning ways in the Ulster Bank League with a two-try 18-12 dismissal of a durable Shannon side at Ballymacarn Park on Saturday.
A combination of strong running and crisp passing created a 13th minute overlap for Shannon's former Australia U20 lock Riley Winter to score his first try since his move north. The visitors' unconverted effort had them leading 5-3 at the end of a first-half full of attacking rugby. A lone penalty from Chris Quinn was all 'Hinch could muster while playing with the wind.
The county Down outfit made amends with an almost immediate try when play resumed. Ulster recruit Angus Lloyd, making his second league start for 'Hinch, showed a clean pair of heels to the Shannon defence and set up left-winger Quinn to make it 8-5.
Quinn knocked over his second successful penalty in the 57th minute, punishing a Tony Cusack infringement, and the gap was out to 13 points after centre Davy Nicholson used turnover ball to barge over out wide for a seven-pointer.
But Shannon were very quick to respond. Barely a minute later, a brilliantly executed chip and chase saw winger Shane Mullally cross the whitewash and Ronan McKenna convert. Try as they might, Marcus Horan's charges could not get any closer and 'Hinch duly pocketed their second win of the campaign.
Meanwhile, in Division 1B, Kevin O'Keeffe's coolly-struck penalty steered UCC to a gripping 18-17 win over high-flying Ballymena at the Mardyke. The Cork students' first triumph since their promotion from Division 1B saw them erase a 14-point deficit with a superb final 50 minutes' play.
Former Ireland international Bryan Young, who is part of Ballymena's coaching team, slotted in at loosehead prop for this trip down to Cork, starting alongside Ireland U20 hooker Adam McBurney and
The Braid men looked in very good fettle when crossing for three tries during the opening half-hour, blindside Connor Smyth joining string-pulling centres Mark Best and Martin Irwin on the scoresheet. Best, who added one conversion, took his season's tally to 32 points in three league outings.
However, when previewing this round three fixture, Ballymena boss Andy Graham anticipated a "difficult game" from "tricky opposition" and that is exactly what his players got. A try in the corner from full-back Chris McAuliffe on the stroke of half-time got UCC back in the hunt at 17-10 down.
The lively home backs then conjured up a second try in the third-quarter, sending replacement James Kiernan over out wide for a terrific score. The difficult conversion proved beyond goal-kicker O'Keeffe but, handed another opportunity by the tireless UCC pack, he converted a closing penalty to see his side battle past one of the division's main promotion contenders.