It was a case of so near yet so far at Stevenson Park on Saturday afternoon when Harlequins grabbed the spoils by a single point. Dungannon deserved their 21-18 lead at the break but some woeful defence let the Belfast boys race into a 21-36 lead by the 75th minute. However, a late surge by the hosts yielded two converted tries and the game ended 35-36. The closeness of the final score hid a lot of disappointment during the latter half but Dungannon can claim winning the try count 5-4 with the late surge also securing 2 bonus points!
The game started at pace and good work by the Dungannon pack led to a try for Andrew McGregor. Jordan McIlwaine added the extras to send the hosts 7 points clear on the third minute. Harlequins reacted and with the help of 2 penalty awards winger, Richard McKee darted in to close the gap on 10 minutes. Back came Dungannon and a stirring effort from the pack brought play to the opponent’s line, a penalty was earned but a set scrum was taken instead. The drive forward ended in a penalty try and the score stood 14-5 at the end of the first quarter. Quins hit back and were duly rewarded when James Bovill landed a penalty on 25 minutes. The visitors kept the momentum going and when fullback, Ben Sloan counterattacked, Conor McAuley was at hand to complete the move. Bovill popped over the conversion to give Quins a first-time lead, 14-15 on 33 minutes. Five minutes later Bovill added another penalty before Dungannon reacted with a self-converted try per McIlwaine that left the score 21-18.
Dungannon started the second half on the front foot before McIlwaine missed out with a penalty shot. The hosts kept the pressure on and a try looked likely before Quins broke from defence and Bovill added another penalty rather against the run of play. Quins then miscued a penalty to the corner but made amends when McAuley took advantage of a leak in the Dungannon defence. Bovill added the extras to make it 21-28 midway through the half. The same player then stroked over a penalty on 62 minutes. There was still time for Dungannon to rescue the match but the late surge did not start until a rare forward drive saw Quins hooker, Steven Weir mauled over on 75 minutes. McGregor then lifted Dungannon hearts when he completed his
hat trick with two dazzling tries. McIlwaine converted both but Quins made off with a one point margin for the second week running. Both sides observed a minute’s silence at the start of the game as a mark of respect for the passing of past president, Arthur Hamilton.
3m Andrew McGregor try, Jordan McIlwaine con, 7-0
9m Richard McKee try, 7-5
18m Dgn pentry, 14-5
25m James Bovill pen, 14-8
33m Conor M’Auley try, JB con, 14-15
38m JB pen, 14-18
40m Jordan McIlwaine try, selfcon, 21-18
48m JB pen, 21-21
58m conor McAuley try, JB con, 21-28
62m JB pen, 21-31
75m Steven Weir try, 21-36
78m Andrew McGregor try, JM con, 28-36
80m Andrew McGregor try, JM con, 35-36
Dungannon:- Andrew McGregor, Johnny Toal, Matthew Montgomery, Mark Faloon, Jordan McIlwaine, Connor McGeough, Jack Ravey, Glenn Sinnamon, Daniel Maxwell, Sean O’Hagan, Lewis McCrabbe, Peter Doran, David Leyburn, Adam Milligan, Alex Gormley, Malcolm Allister, Matthew Stockdale, Cameron Steenson, Conor Milnes, Aaron Perry.
Harlequins:- Ben Sloan, James McConnell, Kyle Adams, John Fletcher, Richard McKee, James Bovill, Conor McAuley, Mark McGrath, Steven Weir, James Harrison, Peter Hayes, Patrick McKee, Christian Bennison, Cameron Kelly, Daryl
Marshall, Rory Winters, Charlie Sargaison, Conor Fletcher, Jonathan Siri, Morgan Ellis.
The full list of SONI Ulster League results is as follows:-
Rainey OB 29 Queens 19
Malone 23 Ballynahinch 22
Banbridge 41 Ballymena 7
Bangor 25 City of Derry 23
Dungannon 35 Harlequins 36
Armagh 40 Omagh 31