Malone 2 lose out to Ballynahinch 2 at Ballymacarn Park
Malone 2 lose out to Ballynahinch 2 at Ballymacarn Park By 22-7
In this penultimate game for Malone seconds in the 2nd xv league, Manager Davy Heron was delighted for this run out at Ballymacarn Park against Junior Cup holders and Towns Cup finalists Ballynahinch. With both teams involved in Cup Finals at the Kingspan stadium on Easter Monday the 17th April it was a case of both playing squads getting a good run out and avoiding any injuries.
Hinch full back Chris Quinn had an early opportunity to put his team in the lead with a penalty striking the cross bar.
The opening exchanges were well contested with both Captains Andy Simpson of Ballynahinch and Daryl Maxwell for Malone leading the early forward exchanges. After a series of penalties against Hinch the referee was left with no alternative but to yellow card their Captain Andy Simpson. Malone capitalised on their penalty to put centre Michael Brown in for a try converted by Rory Campbell to give his side an early 7 - 0 lead.
Ballynahinch were quick to respond with their hard carrying number 8 Graeme McKitterick leading the charge. Out half John Hyndman took advantage of a break to run 30 metres and touch down with Chris Quinn converting to level the scores.
Malone winger David Irvine was then forced to leave the pitch due to injury to be replaced by Reece Davidson. Full back Rory Campbell had an opportunity to restore the lead only to see his penalty attempt drift wide of the right hand post.
Ballynahinch continued to threaten through the running of Chris Quinn and centre Chris Orr to leave the halftime score at 7 - 7.
The home side used their downhill advantage to pin Malone back in their twenty two early in the second half. A knock on at the kick off was punished by Ballynahinch with their hooker Peter Calvert pouncing on a gaping hole in the Malone defence to score a try with Quinn's conversion attempt striking the woodwork.
It was a welcome sight to see long term injury Josh Ferguson coming on to the pitch to replace Andy Baillie in the Malone pack.
Ballynahinch full back Chris Quinn continued to pin Malone deep in their twenty two with his kicking along with the strong carrying of Graeme McKitterick.
Within minutes Ballynahinch increased their lead to 15 - 7 when Chris Quinn kicked an outrageous 40 metre drop goal that sailed high between the posts.
Malone centre Michael Brown and second row Austen Blackburn were looking dangerous with their ball carrying in the open play as the visitors attempted to play themselves back into the game.
Both teams continued to cancel each other's efforts as they pressed for further scores with Malone scrum half Callum Jemphrey looking to probe the Hinch cover with the home side back row of Keith Dickson, Gareth Murdock and Graeme McKitterick particularly prominent.
Eventually Hinch opened up the Malone cover for Gareth Murdock to score his teams third try with Quinn adding the points to increase his teams lead to 22 - 7.
Malone continued to attack with Austen Blackburn and hooker Conor Kelly carrying strongly only for a knock on to hand possession to the home side.
With no further scoring the referee blew his whistle to end a very competitive game.
Excellent work out for both teams with Malone seconds playing Cooke in the final of the McCrea Cup on Easter Monday 17th April with a 12.30PM kick off followed by the Towns Cup Final between Ballynahinch seconds and Enniskillen at 2.30PM.
Malone seconds are due to complete their 2nd xv league programme against Belfast Harlequins seconds at Deramore Park on Thursday night the 13th April with a 7.45PM kick off.