Malone Rugby Club I XV 15 v Belfast Harlequins Rugby Club I XV 46

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Quins flexed their muscles and pace at Gibson Pk to produce a convincing win.

The weather provided a good afternoon for August rugby and a reasonable crowd had gathered on the clubhouse balcony and stand.
The first fifteen minutes saw two fairly nervy teams feel each other out, but Quins started to look the stronger side and after sustained period of pressure in the Malone half, they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts for a ruck infringement. Michael Heaney kicked the goal (12 min), 0-3 to Quins. The visitors pack continued to increase their dominance, Malone infringed at a scrum on the halfway, penalty Quins. The resultant kick placed a Quins line out in the Malone 22. After a perfect catch and powerful drive, the ball was popped out to prop forward Mark McGrath lurking on the left wing and with a now trade mark low sprint and dive for the line saw him score (15 min). Heaney was forgiven for missing a difficult conversion, 0-8 to Quins.
Malone were pounded by the Quins pack for the next 15 minutes, pinned down on several occasions on their own line, but getting out of jail mostly through Quins handling errors. However, Malone eventually relented when they lost possession in their own scrum and an infringement at the subsequent breakdown give Quins another penalty shot in front of the posts, duly kicked by Heaney (30 min), 0-11 Quins.
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Quins seemed to lose their concentration for the remainder of the half, after Quins handling error Malone scored an unconverted try against the run of play (33 min), 5-11 to Quins. On the stroke of half time, Malone intercepted a wayward pass from the Quins backline to score a welcome try, however, Pentland missed the extras.

Half-time Malone 10-11 Quins

Twelve minutes in the second half, and after the Malone line suffered another assault by the superb Quins pack, the robust Michael Ferguson was unstoppable from ten metres out and glided through the absent Malone defence to score under the post (52 min). Heaney added the extras, 10-18 to Quins. Just three minutes later Quins were raiding the Malone line again, this time it was the exciting Michael Allen scoring on the right wing (55 min) after some good passing between forwards and backs. Ten out of ten for Heaney after slotting the most difficult of conversions from the touch line. 10-25 to Quins.
It was Heaney that created the next score for Quins after a break from halfway, he slipped the ball to the 3.45 Matt Holmes express who touched down just left of the posts (65 min). Heaney easily converted, 10-32 to Quins and bonus point in the bag.
With 8 minutes to go Quins were once again camped on the Malone line, a series of Quins scrums were judged to have been deliberately impeded by Malone which resulted in a penalty try (72 min), converted by Heaney. 10-39 to Quins.
With Malone’s heads well and truly down now, yet more great work by Heaney from his own 22 put the powerful Mark Roberts in under the posts (74 min), converted by Heaney. 10-46 to Quins.
In the last minute after some scrappy play Malone managed an unconverted consolation try by winger Kyle Jordan.

Full time score Malone 15-46 Quins.

The power and strength of the Quins pack and the eventual slickness of the backs made a massive difference between these two sides. Quins still had several handling errors and lineout turnovers which will need to be ironed out. If this was a school report for the Quins side it would read ‘Good, but can and must do better’.

There were a few contenders for the man of the match; new boy Paul Greenway was very impressive at tight-head, but you could mention the rest of the front row. Kettyle made some good yards at No.10 and the power and dynamism of the other debutee, Michael Ferguson was hard to ignore. But it was Michael Heaney who bagged the title, playing at fullback, his second choice slot, ever present and excellent in the backline, creating 2 tries and slotting over a total of 16 points. Well done Michael.

Next week will very likely be battle of the packs when City of Derry visit Deramore in the round 2 of the Ulster League.

(Thanks to David Holmes for the excellent match photos)

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