Corinthians host Malone in tricky home opener

Corinthians host Malone on Saturday at Cloonacauneen (2,30pm ) hoping to open their division 1B Ulster Bank League account.

Coaches Pat Cunningham and Sean Duignan will be looking for a big step up in performance after last weekend’s 20-0 loss away to Ballymena. However they face a difficult task in visitors Malone, who enjoyed a comfortable 29-11 victory over Buccaneers last weekend.

Despite finishing in eighth place last season - four below Corinthians - Malone proved tricky opponents. Corinthians eked out a 10-3 win in January, but then succumbed to a 52-18 loss at Deramore Park later in the season.

With a strong home support this weekend, Corinthians need to find the panache that saw them perform so creditably in their first season in the division last year. Although they started strongly enough against Ballymena, they were unable to breach the Eaton Park try line, while Corinthians’ halfbacks Phil Maher and Miah Nikora, in their first outing together, were unable to capitalise on their early dominance.

Having soaked up 20 minutes of pressure, the home side grabbed their first try when flanker Stephen Mulholland slipped a pass to man of the match scrumhalf David Shanahan who crossed, and outhalf Richie McMaster converted.

Corinthians upped their game again and with veteran lock Gary Warde and hooker Joey Merrigan driving forward at every opportunity, the visitors were eventually awarded with a penalty. While Nikora’s kick from the 22 was just wide, Ballymena grabbed their second try just before the break when tighthead Adrian Kilpatrick broke loose from a maul, leaving the half-time score 12- 0.

Despite early attacks, Corinthians were unable to make headway - instead conceding a penalty which McMaster converted. There was no way back for Corinthians when Shanahan scored his second try.

Corinthians: J Dever, J Merrigan, R Loughney, G Warde, C Rafferty, D Phelan, J Connolly, E Masterson, P Maher, M Nikora, O Daly, C Ryan, J Buckley (cpt ). D Classin, D Panter. Subs; A Bane, M Byrne, A Broderick, M Murphy, C Dillane.

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