Dolphin 24 Ballymena 24
Hamish Adams’ Dolphin side looked to be heading for a surprise win over Ballymena but a late try from Huw Jones kept the visitors at the top of the table.
Full-back Dirkie Strydom looked to have set them on their way with a sixth minute penalty from the Dolphin 22, and with Irish Rugby World Cup squad member Paddy Wallace starting at number 10 in place of the injured Ian Humphreys, a fourth win from four looked within their sights.
However by the 26th minute, the home side were 14-3 in front. Back row Sean Madigan crossed for a try under the posts from a ruck near the Ballymena line, which was converted by the league’s leading scorer, out-half John O’Mahony.
On 21 minutes, hooker Conor Twomey touched down for Dolphin’s second try, again converted by O’Mahony for an 11-point lead.
Strydom was having a bad day with the boot and missed with two penalty attempts, before Wallace got the visitors back into the game with his own try and conversion on 34 minutes.
Dolphin’s 14-10 half-time lead looked to be there for the taking, but they managed to extend it by a further ten points without reply.
O’Mahony hit a 25-metre drop goal on 64 minutes after a long scoreless period, before hooker Twomey slalomed in from 15 metres for his second try, converted by O’Mahony.
That was where the fun stopped for Dolphin as the Ulster side put their line under immense pressure.
Ulster U21 centre Andrew Trimble found space to for his second try of the campaign, brilliantly converted from the touch line by Wallace.
And Jones scored for the second week running nearing injury time to spoil Dolphin’s party and maintain Ballymena’s stance as table toppers, leading the way with 16 points, one ahead of Cork Con.
Dolphin: Tries: Twomey 2, Madigan; Con: O’Mahony 3; Drop gl: O’Mahony.
Ballymena: Tries: Wallace, Trimble, Jones; Pen: Strydom; Con: Wallace 3.