RUGBY: Ballynahinch hold out against late Grosvenor rally to claim Crawford Cup

Ballynahinch IVs with the Crawford Cup after they defeated Grosvenor II
Ballynahinch IVs with the Crawford Cup after they defeated Grosvenor II

GROSVENOR II 20 BALLYNAHINCH IV 24

Ballynahinch IV had to repel a strong second half comeback by Grosvenor II to win the Crawford Cup at Kingspan Stadium.

Hinch had an 18 point lead at half time but were hanging on at the end and prevailed by a four point margin.

The cup stays at Ballymacarn Park after the thirds won it last season but that was the first victory in the competition for the fourth string.

Hinch struck after nine minutes to break the deadlock, centre Chris Orr made a surging break carrying close to the line, the ball was worked through a couple of phases before being spun wide, winger Josh McMullan took advantage of a poor tackle in defence to sprint over with James Gillespie converting.

Grosvenor wasted a couple of chances to get back in the game when their lineout misfired twice in the Hinch 22.

The Belfast club did open their account on 30 minutes with winger Timothy McMullan landing a penalty from just inside the Hinch half.

Hinch got their second try on 36 minutes after absorbing a sustained period of pressure in their own 22,

They ran the ball out of defence, prop Chris Stevenson put a perfectly weighted grubber kick in behind the defence Orr raced onto it and went under the posts with Gillespie converting.

Hinch scored from the restart, the Grosvenor defence failed to deal with a high ball allowing full back Mark Douglas to collect and sprint over with Gillespie adding the conversion.

Timothy McMullan missed the chance to cut Hinch’s 21-3 lead at the interval when his penalty with the last kick of the half came back off the post.

Grosvenor got back in the game five minutes after the restart following a good drive from the forwards out half Stuart McIlwaine jinxed past the last defender to touch down with McMullan adding the conversion.

Timothy McMullan chipped away further at the Hinch lead with a 55th minute penalty.

Gillespie was off target with a penalty attempt a minute later.

A strong forward drive Hinch earned them a penalty in front of the posts as Grosvenor failed to roll away in the tackle and Gillespie made no mistake with the easy kick.

Hinch winger Josh McMullan was yellow carded on 70 minutes for a deliberate knock on and Grosvenor took advantage immediately.

From the line they had several probing runs at the line before No8 James Bowan cut back on the angle to score with Timothy McMullan converting but Grosvenor couldn’t create any chances to win the game.