On Saturday, in perfect Autumn conditions,the 1st XV played host to Randalstown RFC in a Kukri Q2 League game and lost by 15-25 in an uncharacteristic and lacklustre performance.
This was a game of two halves. The first totally dominated by Ballymoney and the second dominated by the visitors from which the home side never recovered.
Following their excellent away win at Larne the previous week, Ballymoney instantly laid down their marker and penned Randalstown back in their own half, running some excellent lines in the backs to create havoc for the visitors. One typical line break by James Cleland led to Randalstown being penalised at the ensuing ruck and the resulting penalty was easily converted by winger Nat Steele, to give Ballymoney a three point lead. A few minutes later, the home team went further ahead when fullback Chris Watson sliced through the Randalstown defence to score a superb try beside the posts, again converted by Steele. With Ballymoney ahead by ten points, they played some excellent rugby, but lacked control of the ball at essential moments, and with their foot off the pedal, the pressure on Randalstown eased. For the remaining fifteen minutes of the first half, Randalstown, gaining confidence, kept the home lads on their toes with some strong running and line attack. However, Ballymoney’s defence was sound and they kept their line intact. Halftime 10-0 to Ballymoney.
The second half resumed where the first finished with Randalstown having the upperhand in the loose, winning several turnovers and a score soon materialised. From a Ballymoney line-out on their twenty-two line, the Randalstown winger blocked Matthew Steele’s clearance kick and followed up to score a try in the corner which was converted, leaving the visitors only three points in arrears. A few minutes later they went into the lead with an unconverted try to the right of the posts.
At this stage it became a game of swings and roundabouts, with Ballymoney gradually working their way back into the Randalstown twenty-two, and their hard work and tenacity paying off when number eight John Richmond surged over beside the posts to score an unconverted try, giving the home team a three point lead.
Ballymoney then lost their concentration and a lack of discipline led to two players being yellow carded, the first of these was hooker Davy Watson for allegedly slowing down play and a few seconds later fullback Chris Watson also paid the price. Randalstown next had one of their players yellow carded for a repeat offence, but, with the benefit of the extra man on the pitch, they began to find gaps in the home side’s defence, scoring another two tries and a penalty to put them 15-25 ahead and send a jubilant Gary Longwell and his team back to Randalstown with the points.
This was a disappointing home result for the Ballymoney men and there will be a few areas which will undoubtably be addressed at training, and the coaching team of Carson, Beggs and Cochrane will soon have the lads back on track again and prepared for their next game.
A.Hewitt,R.Blair,J.Bleakley,J.Blair,D.Watson,P.Irvine, J.Carson and G.Pattison.
The 1st XV’s next game is on 26th September, when they play host to Portadown RFC in a Junior Cup game.