BELFAST HARLEQUINS 38 UL BOHEMIANS 7
Belfast Harlequins delivered what could prove to be a vital bonus point win in their battle to avoid relegation from Division 1B with a thumping five-try victory at Deramore.
Though still bottom of the table, this win for coach Adam Larkin’s men - which was their first try bonus of the campaign - has closed the gap between the Belfast side and the other sides battling the drop and could prove to be a springboard in Quins’s bid to escape the drop.
Quins scored five tries and dominated UL Bohemians throughout most of the clash which was a poignant occasion as it marked their first game since the death, earlier this week, of former player Fintan Hillyard.
Quins also showed some great defensive work, especially in the second half with impressive centre Mark Best - wearing 21 as Hillyard’s number 13 shirt was retired for the game - and then prominent flanker Oliver Loughhead binned in the 49th and 72nd minutes respectively.
The home side - who have been decimated by injuries in their backline - were boosted by the release of Ulster players Michael Heaney, Neil McComb and Rory Scholes with Heaney ending up scoring 16 of the Quins total while Scholes finished the encounter by dotting down under the sticks.
It opened with an early penalty from Heaney in the 10th minute and then, seven minutes later, skipper Danny Annett got over from a lineout maul in the corner though Heaney was wide with the difficult conversion attempt.
Bohs immediately hit back with a close-in try from flanker Ian Condell which was converted by Shane Airey to close the home side’s lead to 8-7.
Heaney then struck with a 28th minute penalty and then, just before the half hour mark, Quins unleashed a marvellous attacking move with Best and Scholes prominent before winger Peter Dunlop linked with fellow winger David McMaster who scored under the posts.
Heaney’s conversion made it 18-7 which became 21-7 in the 35th minute after Loughead had won a ball on the deck ahead of Bohs infringing with Heaney doing the needful.
Then, just on half-time, Bohs lost possession and McMaster pounced on a hacked through ball to nudge it over the line and make the touchdown. Heaney missed the extras but Quins now led 26-7 at the break and looked odds-on to triumph.
The second half was a much more cagey affair on the scoreboard and, after surviving Best’s binning for a high tackle, Quins nailed the bonus point after Heaney squeezed over from a scrum - an area Quins dominated throughout - but was unable to add the conversion from a tight angle.
At 31-7, the result was in the bag and then, even with Loughead shown yellow late on, Scholes broke free to score under the sticks and converted his own last minute score.