Queen’s topple Ballynahinch to collect Senior Cup title

Ballynahnich's Robin Harte with Queens' Stuart McIlwaine during Wednesday nights First Trust Senior Cup Final at Ravenhill.
Ballynahnich's Robin Harte with Queens' Stuart McIlwaine during Wednesday nights First Trust Senior Cup Final at Ravenhill.

Queen’s won an entertaining Senior Cup final at Ravenhill by toppling Ballynahinch.

Two second half penalties from out half Ritchie McMaster was enough to seal the game for the students after the sides were level at the break as they shared four first half tries.

The student defence was excellent especially the work rate of the backrow at the breakdown.

Queen’s made a positive start with Stuart McIlwaine and Damon Hall having probing runs earning a penalty but Ritchie McMaster’s long range penalty fell short.

Queen’s continued their pressure and when scrum half Conor Spence tried to take a quick tap penalty he was illegally shoulder charged by Hinch No8 Neil Faloon who received a yellow card.

A rumble through midfield by prop Ben Howard earned the students a penalty when Hinch went off their feet at the ruck but McMaster’s kick drifted wide.

Hinch should have broken the deadlock on 14 minutes when they turned over possession on their own 10 metre line with lock Johnny Madden crossing half way before spinning the ball to winger Aaron Ferris he got to the Queen’s try line but knocked on.

Hinch started to get on the front foot and got the game’s opening try on 17 minutes, the forwards drove the ball through a series of phases, they spun it wide and this time Ferris was able to slide in at the corner but Richie Lobb missed the conversion.

Queen’s hit back on 21 minutes with a try from captain Stuart McIlwaine. Wing Michael McAuley took the ball into contact, it was recycled and fullback Damon beat two defenders before putting McIlwaine clear to go in unopposed but McMaster missed the conversion.

Hinch regained the lead two minutes later when winger Matthew Arneill finished under the posts but Lobb struck the post with the conversion.The students tied the scores again on 34 minutes with a try from McAuley but McMaster missed the conversion.

McMaster wasted an opportunity to put Queen’s in front when a long range penalty dropped short on 50 minutes. McMaster did nudge Queen’s ahead on 56 minutes with a penalty after a high tackle on McIlwaine in midfield.

Hinch had out half Harry McAleese sin binned for not rolling away from the tackle, Queen’s went for touch from the penalty and although they won the lineout they lost the ball in contact and Hinch were able to clear their lines.

McMaster increased Queen’s lead to six points with a second penalty from in front of the posts after Fallon had come into a ruck from the side.

Hall nearly sealed the game when he went for an intercept from a wild pass but he couldn’t hold onto the ball.

McMaster had a chance to seal the victory with another penalty but he pushed his kick from just inside the 10 metre line wide off the post.

In a dramatic finish Hinch forced two penalties on the Queen’s line and the students had centre Chris Colvin yellow carded.

Hinch drove the ball at the Queen’s line with Johnny Madden nearly getting over but the students defence held firm and won a vital turnover.

From the scrum, Queen’s cleared the ball into touch to secure their 23rd victory in the competition.