On Saturday the Ballymoney First XV hosted their counterparts and future league opponents from Omagh in a friendly match at the Kilraughts Road, reports Uel McDowell.
After three consecutive wins complacency set in and a rather lacklustre performance led to the final score of 22-37 in favour of Omagh.
Shortly after kick-off Omagh took the lead, scoring an unconverted try from a line-out on the Town five metre line. Ballymoney were struggling to find cohesion in their game plan, when winger Nat Steele made a fine line break, he found himself isolated allowing Omagh to win the ball and clear upfield into the Ballymoney half with a long kick.
Winning the Town ball at the line-out, they attacked the Ballymoney defence and a neat grubber kick enabled the Omagh winger to score a converted try handing them a 12-0 lead.
The Ballymoney forwards finally began to put some convincing effort into their play and with some good forward surges presented excellent ball for the backs, but too often the backline failed to break the gainline and put pressure on their opponents. However, wing forward Andy McKeeman was rewarded for his sterling work in the back row when he made a tackle, sprang to his feet, charged down a kick to score an excellent try which was converted by Rory Strang.
Omagh, not deterred by this, went on to score another three tries, one of which was converted, with Ballymoney replying with a penalty by Strang to give the visitors from Omagh a 10-29 half-time lead.
The second half resumed with Omagh continuing to dominate the game, scoring two quick unconverted tries to put them 10-39 in front.
During the final 20 minutes the Town belatedly found some rhythm to their play and were rewarded with a try in the corner by Nat Steele which was converted by Strang followed by a fine forwards try by Peter Irvine, after some good rucking by the home pack.
However, time ran out for the Kilraughts Road men leaving the final score at 22-39 in favour of the visitors who never at any stage lost the desire to win.
Overall, a very disappointing performance from the Ballymoney men, compared to the team’s earlier games.
This is a good young team with abundant ability, but if they are to succeed in this league they will need to demonstrate commitment, controlled aggression and be more focused and disciplined.
After the game Captain Peter Irvine commented: “We had a few reshuffles just before the game due to injury in the warm up so that was something that disrupted us for a bit.
“All in all it was a free flowing game, with a few things needing touched up on during training this week. The boys are all looking forward to the first league game on Saturday at home against Grosvenor so we have a tough week’s training ahead and we will hopefully hit the ground running.
The First XV play their first league match at home against Grosvenor. Kick-off 2.30 pm.
Biesty’s Ballymoney Mini Rugby Club welcomes all Primary school children along with Year 8s to the Kilraughts Road
pitches for training and the start of the new season on Saturday 29th August , 9:45am -10:45 . The following Saturday 5th September will see the family fun day run from 9:45-12noon . Contact us on Facebook or our website for more details www.ballymoneyminirugby.co.uk