BELFAST HARLEQUINS 11 DOLPHIN 24
Bottom club Belfast Harlequins fell to their fifth straight defeat and now look to already have a real battle on their hands to ensure their survival in Ulster Bank AIL Division 1B.
In a game which saw four players sent to the bin, with two from each side, and a period of uncontested scrums, Quins played like a side low on confidence and composure.
Not only did they manage to butcher a number of good scoring chances - turning down an early kickable penalty and then losing the plot later on when chasing a losing bonus point - but they also failed to score at all between the 28th and 71st minutes.
In spite of being in control early on and leading 6-0 just before the half hour, mark thanks to an early Mark Best penalty followed by a similar effort from Tim Emerson, Quins then lost control of the game and Dolphin’s first notable attack resulted in centre Cian Bohane scorching through to touch down right on the half hour.
Barry Keeshan converted and Quins never had the lead again. Five minutes later and second row David O’Mahony barged over after Quins lost a lineout near their line which also resulted in Best being sent to the bin for interfering with Dolphin’s scrum-half.
Keeshan converted and the visitors led 14-6 at the break with Emerson missing a long range penalty - Best had also missed one earlier as well just prior to Dolphin losing their first man to the bin - right on the blow.
Things didn’t improve for Quins in the second half with Keeshan landing a 44th minute penalty and then, four minutes later, Dolphin scored their second try when second row Christopher Rowe was driven over from a lineout maul.
Keeshan hit a great conversion and Quins looked dead and buried at 24-6 down.
But they did manage to stage a revival of sorts with notable breaks by Frank Taggart and Glover. Quins’ had the edge at the scrums too and Dolphin then lost their second player to the sin-bin when loosehead prop John Leahy was sent on his way in the 68th minute.
This was immediately followed by tighthead prop Ken O’Halloran going down with an injury which led, much to Quins’ annoyance, to uncontested scrums until near the end.
The home side finally got a try when Glover got over in the 71st minute though Best missed the difficult conversion. Then in a chaotic endgame, Quins had second row Josh Davidson binned in injury time during which Dolphin thought they had their bonus try via winger William Hanly only to be called back for offside.
Belfast Harlequins: B Monahan, A McPhillips, M Glover, M Best, P Dunlop, T Emerson, C Young; O McCollum, S Weir, R Lutton, J Davidson, N McComb (capt), F Taggart, M McKelvey, B Alexander
Dolphin: S McAuliffe, R Reardon, C McGovern, C Bohane, W Hanly, B Keeshan, D Foley; J Leahy, D Byrne, K O’Halloran, C Rowe (capt), D O’Mahony, R O’Herlihy, B Fitzgerald, J Fitzgerald