Ballynahinch too strong for Buccs

Jack Carty makes the break that led to Buccaneer’s try at Ballynahinch

Jack Carty makes the break that led to Buccaneer’s try at Ballynahinch

Ballynahinch retained their Ulster Bank League Division 1A status as they proved too strong for a brave and wholehearted Buccaneers side when winning this promotion/relegation contest 35-13 in front of a bumper attendance at Ballymacarn Park on Saturday. David McIlwaine opened the scoring for the home side with a second minute penalty after Buccs were guilty of not releasing while Jack Carty’s ambitious long placekick three minutes later went narrowly wide of the uprights. The outhalf then made a decent break to get a promising foothold in home territory but a knock-on ended this attack. However, Buccs forced a penalty at the resultant scrum and Carty duly levelled the scores. But the Division 1B men were soon caught on the wrong side of a close-in ruck and McIlwaine converted from in front of the posts. The opening try arrived on 18 minutes as skipper Stuart Morrow finished the move with McIlwaine’s conversion giving the hosts a 13-3 advantage. McIlwaine had a rare miss with a penalty three minutes later. Buccs responded positively with a splendid Carty double break and his inviting grubber kick was fastened onto by Shane Layden who popped up on the right for a 28th minute try converted by Carty to tighten the arrears to 13-10. Hinch replied within four minutes and again Rodger McBurney made ground much too easily through the visitors’ defence after he collected a Garryowen and the fullback was on hand to finish off this swift counter-attack for a try converted by McIlwaine. Buccs prop Diarmuid Higgins was flagged in this move and, consequently sin binned, which the hosts soon capitalised on. The impressive McBurney powered forward down the right flank for a 38th-minute try that gave Ballynahinch a solid 25-10 lead at half time. Within a minute of the restart, McIlwaine added a penalty but Carty replied with a placekick five minutes later to keep the Athlone side in contention. They piled on the pressure in the third quarter but without reward, lacking the composure and sheer physical strength to unlock a highly committed and organised Hinch defensive effort that was occasionally stretched. But McIlwaine claimed a hat-trick of tries deflating Buccaneers’ challenge but, in reality, the cause was looking lost at that stage. McIlwaine's conversion completed the scoring.

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