Malone bag bonus poin victory on the road against Nenagh Ormond
Malone ran out bonus point winners against Nenagh Ormond by 7-37
The East Belfast side made the long journey to Tipperary to play rivals Nenagh Ormond in Round One of the Ulster Bank All Ireland League. Both teams had locked horns in the playoffs last season only to miss out to Dolphin who retained their place in Div 1B.
Nenagh are a big physical team who would present an opening day challenge for the 'Red Sox' players. Malone Head coach Paddy Armstrong had his team well prepared with the players taking a grip of the game in the opening 30 minutes. Tries from Ulster Academy prop Peter Cooper and centre Michael Cartmill along with winger Rory Campbell kicking two conversions and two penalties built up an 20 - 0 lead.
Nenagh did respond with a try by Willy Cooper converted by Clayton Stewart to leave the visitors leading 20 - 7 at halftime.
Early in the second half Campbell added another penalty to increase his teams lead. During a five minute spell entering the fourth quarter Malone closed the match out with two further tries from replacement scrum half Connor Spence and the bonus point try scored by Ulster full back Jack Owens, both converted by Campbell to leave the final score 37 - 7.
The scoreline may look quite flattering for Malone. This was a game that required considerable discipline from the visiting players. Nenagh were physical and played on the edge throughout the match. Referee Dermot Blake stamped his authority on illegal actions and foul play by yellow carding three of the Nenagh players.
Playing controlled and disciplined rugby was the goal of Head coach Paddy Armstrong and how the players responded through the leadership of Captain Ross Todd.
Both Malone centres Nathan Brown and Michael Cartmill looked strong throughout the match with winger David McMaster putting in a another fine performance. Winger Rory Campbell made it 7/7 to finish with 17 points.
Next week the team return to Gibson Park to play Cork visitors Highfield who opened their season with an impressive 35 - 19 win over Blackrock College.
Malone team: 1. Chris Griffiths, 2. Dave Cave, 3. Peter Cooper, 4. Josh Davidson, 5. Michael Shiels, 6. Max Porter, 7. Ross Todd, 8. Ryan Clarke, 9. Shane Kelly, 10. Callum Smith, 11. David McMaster, 12. Nathan Brown, 13. Michael Cartmill, 14. Rory Campbell. 15. Jack Owens, 16. Danny Kerr, 17. Philip Eadie, 18. Lee Barlow, 19. Connor Spence, 20. Josh Pentland.