Ballynahinch Rugby I XV 18 v Belfast Harlequins Rugby I XV 15

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Despite late pressure, the Hinch hold out and Quins get only a losing bonus point

Quins arrived at the Hinch on a much drier day than would have been predicted from Friday’s monsoon conditions! The pitch, after inspection was cleared for use. The wind looked as if it would not dominate play and indeed was variable in both strength and direction, over the course of the match.
Quins were delighted to welcome back Adam Macklin and Michael Allen to the bench on their return from lengthy injuries. Again after injury, Andrew Gillespie returned to captain the side, with Ali Scott dropping out. Ballynahinch as the league leaders would be the favourites in what could be a very testing outing for Quins.
The game commenced at a hectic pace and the Hinch threatened to over-run Quins in the first 15 minutes. Quins, while defending well, concede an unconverted rumble-over try in the right hand corner after 10 minutes. Three minutes later, a well struck penalty brought the score to 8 – 0. Further Hinch moves were repelled, but in a couple of cases, only because of the Hinch’s sloppy handling while on the rampage.

At this stage, Quins were probably lucky to be only 8 – 0 behind, but could not get their hands on the ball or get into the Hinch half..
However, Hinch’s all out aggression faded to some extent, and after a few unsuccessful Quins flurries , with 20 minutes on the board, Ali Heatlie drove over from a rare maul on the Hinch line. Niall O’Connor was unable to convert this or a penalty a few minutes later, but Quins were back in the game.
Quins kept the Hinch at bay until the half time whistle, and Quins supporters would have been reasonably happy with the 8 – 5 interval score.
However, the 2nd half had hardly warmed up when the Hinch went further ahead through a drop goal from 35 meters. Hinch 11 – Quins 5.
Quins introduced Michael Allen and Adam Macklin as the half continued, but a yellow card given to Ali Heatlie reduced Quins to 14 men. The Hinch took advantage of their numerical advantage to maul over in the right hand corner after 17 minutes and, an excellent conversion put the Hinch 18 – 5 up and things again looked grim for Quins.
However, they again returned to the attack and a smooth back move saw Matt Holmes go over in the left hand corner with 15 minutes remaining – 18 – 10.
Despite the missed conversion, Quins now looked to be up for the challenge and with the Hinch themselves suffering a yellow card, a brilliant forward drive saw Mark McGrath go over on the right hand side for an unconverted try. Hinch 18 – Quins 15.
The final 10 minutes saw both sides attempting to seal ( or steal) the result, and as the final whistle went, it was Quins who had put heavy pressure on the Hinch defence with some well worked back moves.
Alas, their efforts were not to be rewarded and the Hinch won an excellent match 18 – 15, with Quins retaining their losing bonus point.

Congratulations, to the Hinch for winning and their willingness to ‘go for the throat’ — but also to Quins for the determined never say die attitude. They competed well in scrum and lineout and never backed down. The whole pack should be toasted, but special mention should be given to both Mark McGrath and Ali Heatlie for their individual contributions.
Scorers: (Heatlie 1t, Holmes 1t, McGrath 1t)

Despite losing, Quins remain in 3rd position. However, Ballymena are now only 2 points behind with 2 games in hand, although one of these is against league leaders UCD away. The top 4 sides go up and the 5th side has a play-off with the bottom 1B side. WE have 4 games left – Clonakilty (h), Ballymena (a), Queens (h) and Malone (a).
All to play for!

Team: Miles O’Hagan, Matt Holmes, Willie Stewart, Mark Kettyle, Rory Blake-Knox; Niall O’Connor, Michael Heaney; Mark McGrath, Robert Logan, Ian Mathew; Gareth Rourke, Neil McComb, Andrew Gillespie (capt), Danny Annett, Alistair Heatlie
Bench: Gareth Reilly, Calum Leckie, Adam Macklin, , Michael Allen, Roger Kirkwood

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