Malone snatched a dramatic late win in this McCrea Cup semi final, against Queen’s, at Gibson Park with the home team taking the lead for the first time with the last kick of the game.
Malone enjoyed the buk of territory and possession in the first half but it was Queen’s who capitalised with the points.
The students impressive No. 7, Jack Slater ran in the opening try after 12 minutes before winger Curtis Dundas got in on the act with a brace a minute either side of the half hour mark.
With one of the tries converted Queens had rushed to a 0 – 17 lead without having to do too much.
However, Malone’s prop Garry Crawford barged over for a crucial try just before the break and, with Matty Neill converting, it was a 10 point game as the teams turned round with Malone trailing 7 – 17.
Queen’s seemed to settle on defending their lead after the break and their tactics appeared to be working as their scrum half knocked over a couple of early penalties to extend their lead to 7 – 23.
Malone finally sprung to life at the end of the third quarter and a brace of tries from Gary Andrews in the space of three minutes set up an exciting finale. Rory Campbell converted both to take the score to 19 – 23 and the experienced out half started to orchestrate the game.
Queens hit back with a third penalty, shortly after, to extend their lead to 7 points, but they maybe should have tried to spend a bit of time in Malone territory to take a bit of the sting out of the game.
The home side’s tails were up and, with an energetic bench eager to make an impact, they piled on the pressure for the remaining 6 minutes. The pressure told and a fumble across the line from Queen’s saw Malone’s Ricky McCullough, literally, pounce to touch down, giving Campbell the conversion to tie the game.
The out half slotted it over and minutes later he was stepping up to do it again with the winning penalty, after Queen’s failed to clear off the back of a scrum, Malone taking the lead for the first time in the game.
Malone will now face Cooke at the Ravenhill showpiece final.
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