Malone secure another bonus point win on the road against Blackrock
Malone secure another bonus point win on the road against `blackrock by 10-27
Report courtesy of George Millat
Late changes to the Malone team saw David Irvine coming in to replace centre Nathan Brown with Ulster ‘A’ back row forward Joe Dunleavy pulled late on Friday. Josh Davidson was moved from the bench to take his place in the second row with Michael Shiels moving to the back row and Max Porter coming on to the bench. It was also pleasing to see the injured Philip Eadie and Rory Campbell return to take their place on the bench.
It was the Malone team that played against the blustery conditions in the first half at Stradbrook with the home side exerting all the pressure in the first 10 mins with Malone losing prop Peter Cooper to injury to be replaced by Philip Eadie. Strong defence from the visitors kept the Dublin side at bay. Blackrock opened the scoring with a David Scott Lennon penalty and continued to control possession and territory. Malone did respond with a Mark O’Connor penalty to level the scores. Blackrock with their running game continued to stretch the Malone defence. On the advice of the touch judge the referee removed centre David Irvine from the pitch for a head injury assessment to be replaced by Rory Campbell. Mark O’Connor moved into the centre with Rory Campbell taking his place on the wing. It took an enforced error after 30 mins from Malone for Blackrock to break the deadlock with their backs spinning the ball wide for their number 8 Job Langbroek to touch down with Lennon adding the points to give the home side a 10 – 3 lead. Again Malone lost their third player to injury as winger David McMaster injured his ankle to be replaced by Connor Spence. Despite the disruptions the visitors attacked the Blackrock line for the final 10 mins but were unable to break down their resolute defence to leave the halftime score 10 – 3 to Blackrock.
With the wind advantage Malone capitalised minutes into the second half. With Blackrock attacking the alert O’Connor intercepted to run 50 metres and touch down. He added the points to level the score at 10 – 10. Blackrock continued to attack and it was the Malone team who added two quick tries in seven minutes through winger Rory Campbell and Captain Ross Todd to lead 20 – 10 going into the final quarter. Malone then lost second row Josh Davidson to injury to be replaced by Max Porter. This necessitated positional changes with Michael Shiels moving into the second row and Max Porter into the back row. Back came Blackrock who laid siege to the Malone line. Again the visitors defence held firm with Scott Finlay replacing Dan Kerr in the front row. With time running out Malone launched one final attack with fine inter passing involving the backs to allow Rory Campbell to touch down for his second try and the teams crucial bonus point. O’Connor added the points to increase the Malone lead to 27 – 10. Again Blackrock attacked looking to get something from the match with the Malone defence yielding nothing.
The final whistle went to leave Malone deserved winners against a Blackrock side who never gave up for the 80 mins.
Once again Captain Ross Todd put in a man of the match performance as his side out scored the home side 24 – 0 in the second half to win this game. Despite picking up four injuries during the match and the late changes to the original selection there is real strength in depth in the squad with players able to slot in to forced changes.
Next up for this Malone team is the first of four meetings this season with City of Armagh at Gibson Park on Saturday the 4th November in the UBL, First Trust Senior Cup Semi Final at Palace Grounds on the 18th November along with a return game in the UBL at the Palace Grounds and a Ulster Premiership League game at Gibson Park in the second half of the season. There is also the matter of a Belfast derby involving Malone and Queens Uni at Gibson Park on Friday the 10th November with a 7.30PM kick off in the UBL.
Injuries continued to rule out several key players including Jack Owens, Joe Dunleavy, Nathan Brown, Callum Smith and Dave Cave.
Malone team: 1. Ben Halliday, 2. Dan Kerr, 3. Peter Cooper, 4. Matthew Dalton, 5. Josh Davidson, 6. Michael Shiels, 7. Ross Todd (Captain), 8. Ryan Clarke, 9. Shane Kelly, 10. Josh Pentland, 11. David McMaster, 12. David Irvine, 13. Michael Cartmill, 14. Mark O’Connor, 15. Andy Bryans, 16. Philip Eadie, 17. Scott Finlay, 18. Max Porter, 19. Connor Spence, 20. Rory Campbell.