Cork Constitution 35 Ballynahinch 19
A ROB JERMYN hat-trick inside 25 minutes and the bonus-point try shortly after highlighted Cork Constitution’s impressive win over Ballynahinch at Temple Hill on Saturday.
It was the Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A champions’ seventh victory on the bounce and cemented their position at the top of the table.
The Ulster side won the toss and decided to play with the very strong wind blowing straight down the pitch, almost forcing the champions’ hand in electing what to do in possession.
Ballynahinch got a foretaste of lay in store in the opening minute, when Alex McHenry’s break, carried on by Greg Higgins, had alarm bells ringing in the visitors’ defence.
They escaped with a penalty on that occasion, but Con sensed the possibilities of playing with ball in hand, recognising the futility of attempting to kick into the gusting wind at the same time.
And once Jermyn finished a barnstorming attack in the eighth minute, following a move instigated on the opposite flank by Sean French and also involving Duncan Williams and Dave Hyland, Con’s self-belief grew.
Jack Crowley’s brilliant touchline conversion into the near-gale increased the feel-good factor. Con were up and running and Hinch could do little to stop the onslaught.
Even the concession of a soft Ross Adair try, five minutes later, didn’t deflate the home side, who simply re-doubled their efforts.
Con’s second try in the 19th minute came from a typical Evan Mintern charge up the middle with McHenry on his shoulder to take the pass before sending Jermyn in at the costs. Crowley converted for 14-5.
The flying wing completed his hat-trick after 25 minutes, finishing off Higgins’s handiwork with Crowley adding the extras for 21-5. Now Con chased a fourth.
And it duly arrived within six minutes in a score which typified Con’s approach as French tore off down the right and Crowley applied the finishing touch at the posts. The out-half converted for 28-5.
Hinch grabbed a second try just before the interval, Sean O’Hagan’s cross-kick picking out George Pringle with O’Hagan converting, 28-12.
Con resumed in the same mood, captain Niall Kenneally crossing for the fifth try after James Murphy and Cathal O’Flaherty were stopped short. Crowley converted, 35-12 after 48 minutes.
Hinch had the last say with dynamic scrum-half Rhys O’Donnell deserving his injury-time try.
Scorers for Cork Con: Tries: R Jerymn (3), J Crowley, N Kenneally; Cons: J Crowley (5)
Ballynahinch: Tries: R Adair, G Pringle, R O’Donnell; Cons: S O’Hagan (2)
CORK CONSTITUTION: G Higgins; S French, A McHenry, N Kenneally, captain, R Jermyn; J Crowley, D Williams; G Duffy, J Sutton, D Murphy; S Duffy, C O’Flaherty; D Hyland, E Mintern, R O’Neill.
Subs: M Abbott, R Burke, J Murphy, R Foley, J Costigan.
BALLYNAHINCH: P Wright; A Cairns, R Adair, R Harte, G Pringle; S O’Hagan, R O’Donnell; K McCall, C Piper, J Blair; J Simpson, J Donnan, captain; J Regan, C Ross, O Loughead.
Subs: S Ross, B Cullen, B Luney, C Rankin, G Hutley.
Referee: J Erksine (IRFU)