Ballynahinch are the new leaders of Ulster Bank League Division 1B having come from behind to grab a share of the spoils with UCD this afternoon.
The students were on course for a stunning victory at Ballymacarn Park when they turned around with a 21-5 lead, aided by tries from backs Peter du Toit and Sam Coghlan Murray.
Two early penalties from Niall Earls set UCD on their way, but ‘Hinch fought their way back to produce a much-improved second half display.
David Nicholson, James Thompson and Stuart Morrow shared out their tries, however it was a day to forget for the County Down outfit - they struggled to retain possession on a number of occasions and were blighted by individual errors.
Thankfully for the home crowd, they engineered enough chances to get back on terms with Bobby Byrne’s side and avoid starting 2012 on a losing note.
At Stevenson Park, Dungannon got back to winning ways with a well-judged 28-15 defeat of Bruff.
Recent Ulster debutant Chris Cochrane continued his try-scoring form as he dotted down his sixth and seventh scores of the campaign, with Mark Farquhar and Paul McKenzie also touching down for the hosts.
Eoghan Maher and Brendan Deady nabbed tries in the second half as Bruff threatened to mount a comeback, however Justin Fitzpatrick’s charges had too firm a grip on proceedings.
Elsewhere, Munster youngsters JJ Hanrahan and Sean Henry both got on the scoresheet as they helped UL Bohemians edge out Galwegians 24-22 at Crowley Park.
Out-half Hanrahan tallied up 14 points while hooker Henry and replacement Ben Martin grabbed a try apiece in the second half, with ‘Wegians losing their grip on a 13-point interval lead.
UCC’s long wait for their first win of the league season came to an end as out-half Brian Kingston kicked them to a 22-18 success over Buccaneers at the Mardyke.
Kingston landed five penalty goals and converted winger Luke Duffy’s second half try, with Buccs touching down in each half through backs John O’Brien and Shane Layden.
Meanwhile, Belfast Harlequins moved within striking distance of Ballymena at the top of the Division 1B standings after beating their Ulster rivals 9-0 last night.
In a game dominated by the elements, Ballymena failed to take advantage of a strong wind at their backs in the first half at Deramore Park.
Former Ireland Under-20 international Ian Porter, kicking in the absence of ‘Quins top scorer Michael Heaney, fired over his first successful penalty in the 46th minute.
The forward exchanges were typically tough and uncompromising and every inch was fought for in this well-contested derby tie.
Porter missed the target shortly afterwards but two further penalty goals after 63 and 73 minutes helped Adam Larkin’s men record a confidence-boosting win at the start of the New Year.
‘Quins also had a try disallowed in the final quarter as they pressed for more points, but Ballymena could not respond despite the best efforts of Richard Aingworth, Blane McIlroy and captain Paul Pritchard.