Queen’s University 18 Ballynahinch 24
Richard Hart reports from The Dub Upper Malone
The sunny conditions were perfect for rugby with only a light breeze blowing across the pitch towards the old Queen’s changing facilities.
Ballynahinch kicked-off, playing from the Malone Road end and started strongly in what promised to be a physical encounter. After several phases of play, the students conceded a scrum to on the halfway. Queen’s put Hinch under pressure at the scrum, but Cairns was able to get the ball away to Harry McAleese who moved it wide with Stuart Morrow making good ground before being tackled in the Queen’s 22. Great supporting play from Chris Stevenson saw him smash over just to the left of the Queen’s posts for the opening try. Michael Lawton converted to give the Hinch a 7-0 lead with 6 minutes played.
In the ninth minute, a Hinch scrum on their 10m line, saw the ball moved wide to the right through all the backs with a kick and chase ball for Michael Lawton threatening the Queen’s line. The referee deemed that Lawton had been obstructed and awarded a penalty. He then stepped up to secure another 3 points for the County Down men to increase their lead to 10-0 with 11 minutes played.
A scrum awarded to Queen’s in the 13th minute saw the Hinch reverse the pressure that Queen’s had initially put them under in the scrum. With a huge effort, the Hinch eight took the students off their own ball and won the put-in. This set the tone of the scrum for the remainder of the match with the students never being able to compete against a clearly better drilled Hinch pack.
The visitors consistently put the students under pressure at the set piece, contesting hard at the line-out the Hinch back row winning turn over ball at the ruck saw the Hinch backs regularly threaten the Queen’s defence, but poor handling and finishing let the visitors down.
After Queen’s were awarded a penalty in the 31st minute for hands in the ruck, they kicked deep into the Hinch 22 and secured the ball from the line out. The home side moved the ball through numerous phases but were unable to threaten a solid Hinch defence.
However, they didn’t panic, after a further few phases of play, the students out-half Richie McMaster settled for an easy drop goal from the centre of the pitch taking the score to Queen’s 3 Hinch 10 with 32 minutes played.
From the restart, Queen’s secured the ball and attacked quickly using their backs, moving the ball through several pairs of hands Hinch scrum-half Cairns was unable to stop the Queen’s winger Stuart McIlwaine from scoring in the left hand corner. McMaster missed the conversion to leave the score Queen’s 8 Hinch 10 with 34 minutes played.
A lineout in the 39th minute a Hinch lineout was deemed not to be straight and Queen’s were awarded a scrum on the visitors 22. Despite the Queen’s scrum being under pressure, scrum-half Paddy Farrell managed to break towards the Hinch line supported by his back row, but good defence from the Hinch flanker Matthew Connolly stopped the move, but Hinch were penalised for hands in the ruck. McMaster added the penalty on 40 minutes to take the home side into the lead at the interval Queen’s 11 – Hinch 10.
Hinch kicked off the 2nd half playing towards the Malone Road. Winning the kick-off Rob Greer made a strong break through the Queen’s defence in the centre of the pitch. Harry McAleese was in close support to collect the off-load and scored under the posts with just 3 minutes of the second half played. Lawton added the extras to leave the score at 11-17 to the visitors.
In the 45th minute Hinch threatened again from the restart with a potential break away try for Ferris being thwarted by a dropped pass inside Queen’s 22. The County Down men put the subsequent Queen’s scrum under huge pressure. With the ball being won by the Hinch forwards the scrum started to collapse on the Queen’s line, Rob Greer picked up and drove over to score the third Hinch try with Lawton converting to increase the Hinch lead to 11-24.
Queen’s did not let their heads drop and continued to pressure the County Down men. This pressure paid off in the 53rd minute with Queen’s securing their lineout the ball it was quickly moved along their back line where the students create an overlap on the left wing to send Michael McAuley over to score in the left corner. McMaster added the extras from the touchline to make the score 18-24 with 54 minutes played.
In the 61st minute Hinch won their scrum and cleared to touch outside their 22. Queen’s secured their lineout and moved the ball wide with winger Michael Cochrane on a switch move, but Cochrane was heavily tackled by Harry McAleese. The Queen’s winger suffered a severe injury to his lower left leg that required the match to be stopped to allow an ambulance to attend. After play had been delayed for over 40 minutes, the two team captains in consultation with the referee, agreed that the match would be conceded by Queen’s and the Hinch now move on to the next round of the First Trust Ulster Senior Cup.
Ballynahinch team: 15 Chris Quinn, 14 Michael Lawton, 13 Stuart Morrow, 12 Paddy James, 11 Aaron Ferris, 10 Harry McAleese, 9 Aaron Cairns, 1 Chris Stevenson (c), 2 Andrew Harper, 3 Jamie Wilkinson, 4 Robert Greer, 5 Jonny Madden, 6 J McMullan, 7 Matthew Connolly, 8 David McGuigan.
Replacements: James Simpson, Matthew Nelson, Michael Graham, Roger McBurney, James McBriar