Ballynahinch secure Ulster Senior League title
Ballynahinch won the Ulster Senior League for a fifth time in nine years as they beat Queen’s 33-8 on the final day of the season to bring the Stevenson Shield back to Ballymacarn Park.
‘Hinch had gone into the last day three points ahead of the students as they sides met in a winner takes all clash.
Ballynahinch won all five games with bonus points and Director of Rugby Tim Morton was delighted to win the first trophy of the season.
“It’s great and maybe sometimes when you don’t go as well as you ought to in the All Ireland League other clubs sort of question your status, so this means nothing has changed and ‘Hinch are still the top team in Ulster,” stated Morton.
“We knew it was going to be a big challenge, but our boys knew what they had to do, and they just didn’t give Queen’s a chance to play and I’m really proud how they did that.
“They were patient because it was 5-3 for a very long time, but they put the hard work in and it paid off in the back 20, and when the gaps appeared we were able to take advantage of the hard work that was done in the first hour.”
‘Hinch had too much up front for the students, all five of their tries were scored by forwards.
“That was always where we were going to turn the screw was at the set piece and we were able to do that,” said Morton.
“I think it took the legs out of Queen’s for the last 20 minutes.”
Morton is hoping with a bit of silverware at Ballymacarn Park ‘Hinch can transfer their domestic for into the All Ireland league in the second half of the season.
Currently they are bottom of Division 1A having lost all nine games.
“We have had so many close calls in the All Ireland League,” said Morton.
“There is a break over Christmas now and with a trophy in the cabinet against strong Queen’s team there is no better way to regroup and go hard at the second half of the All Ireland League.”
Ballynahinch got off to the perfect start against Queen’s when flanker Olly Lougheed crossed for an unconverted try.
Queen’s outhalf Ritchie McMaster landed a 23rd minute penalty and there was no further scoring in the first half giving Hinch had a slender 5-3 lead at the interval.
The start of the second half remained a cagey affair until former Ulster prop Kyle McCall scored ‘Hinch’s second try on 54 minutes with Greg Huntley adding the conversion.”
Argentinian prop Nacho Caldera added the home side’s third try on 67 minutes with Huntley landing the extras.
McMaster got the students only try of the game on 71 minutes but he was unable to convert his own score.
Zac Ward, son of former Ulster captain Andy, went over with three minutes remaining for a converted try for his side.
Ballynahinch completed their emphatic victory with an injury time try for loose forward Bradley Luney.
In the only other games played, both in Division 2, Ballymena beat Dungannon 17-12 while Belfast Harlequins enjoyed a 35-7 home win over City of Derry.