ALL IRELAND LEAGUE: New Year cheer for Belfast Harlequins as they break duck with win over Blackrock

Belfast Harlequins Jacob Stockade and captain Neil McComb embrace after defeating  Blackrock College
Belfast Harlequins Jacob Stockade and captain Neil McComb embrace after defeating Blackrock College

BELFAST HARLEQUINS 12 BLACKROCK COLLEGE 10

Belfast Harlequins finally broke their duck in difficult conditions at Deramore on Saturday by coming back twice from trailing Blackrock to secure their first win of the campaign after suffering 10 straight defeats.

Though the result keeps Quins at the foot of the Ulster Bank All Ireland League Division 1B table it now gives them a fighting chance of turning their season around and has narrowed the gap between them and UL Bohemians - who are in ninth - to seven points.

Tries in either half from full-back Mark Glover and centre Jacob Stockdale along with one conversion from Mark Best saw Quins over the line after the home side had fought back to lead 7-5 at half-time but then fallen behind again early in the second.

The first scoring chance of the game fell to Quins but Best was wide with his 13th minute penalty effort shortly after Rock were reduced to 14 men when winger Davy Rowan was shown yellow.

It was Rock, though, who took the lead in the 28th minute in what was their first significant attack of the game. After they had initially lost the ball from a driving maul, flanker Sam Cooke managed to grab possession back and he dived over in the corner.

Out-half Peter Quirke missed the difficult kick and Rock held their lead until late in the first half when a break from Conor Young created the impetus for Best to chip through for Glover to slide over near the posts.

Best converted and Quins led by two at the break but the Quins fly-half was unable to stretch the home side’s lead five minutes after the restart when he was wide with another potentially kickable penalty.

Quins then lost the lead at the 50 minute mark when Rock put a penalty into the corner and mauled over the home side’s line with number eight Gary Fenn getting the touchdown.

Again, though, Quirke missed the tricky conversion but Rock now had the lead again at 10-7.

Not long after that, Quins had hooker Paul Jackson sin-binned for leading twice with his elbow from a tap penalty but Rock were unable to take any advantage of his absence as Quirke hit the post with a 65th minute penalty shot.

It was a lucky break for Quins who, though under the cosh, found it within themselves to launch a dangerous attack with just over 10 minutes to go and, from it, Stockdale dived over and, even though Best missed again with the conversion, Quins held firm to win.