BALLYMONEY 15 COOKE RFC 30
BALLYMONEY suffered their third defeat in the league in Saturday against Belfast side Cooke RFC.
Ballymoney welcomed back Cormac McCartney and John Richmond to the team but an injury to Sam Bartlett resulted in Sam Kyle coming up to the bench on Friday.
The game kicked off in good conditions and things were even early on. Cooke held the majority of procession but the Toon defence stood firm. Cooke missed an attempt at goal and Ballymoney went down to other end of the pitch after the drop out to earn a penalty which Captain Cleland successfully converted to give the home side a 3-0 lead.
Ballymoney rush defence paid dividends when a pass from Cooke outhalf was intercepted by McCartney who raced away 50 meters to score below the posts. The try was converted as Ballymoney now lead 10-0 with 20 minutes gone.
Some good tackling limited Cooke time in Ballymoney 22 although they benefited from a penalty 30 metres out to get their first points on the board and bring the score to 10-3.
Then Ballymoney’s focus was hit by a succession of events at the end of the first half. Captain James Cleland had to leave the match with an injury and this was followed by James Campbell being sent to the sinbin for an infringement at a ruck. With a reshuffle in the backline and down to 14 men Cooke scored a try in the corner after some poor tackling to make the score at the break 10-8.
Ballymoney with the lead had to keep the ball in the second half but some poor decision making and too many handling errors allowed Cooke to counter attack through their backline.
Again some poor organisation in defence allowed the Cooke Number 8 to make a break down the pitch. The ball was moved wide for the winger to go in at the corner. The conversion was successful and Cooke now had the lead for the first time 10-15.
The killer blow came moments later after Neal Mulholland was sent to the bin for after he was judged to have slapped the ball down on purpose.
Cooke quickly took the penalty in their own half and it was kicked deep by the Cooke centre. The referee had adjudged an infringement to happen where the ball had landed. They kicked to the corner and after several phases of play the Cooke 10 broke the line and scored below the posts. With the score now 10-22 Cooke had thoughts of the bonus point.
Ballymoney showed good character to build the phases of play and move up the pitch. From a lineout the ball was moved to the wing. The Cooke cover defence halted the play close to the line. Garvin Bellingham picked at the base and was stopped just short. Jonny Hanna was spotted by scrum half Nelson who passed him the ball and Hanna crashed over an unconverted try.
The score was now 15-22 with 20 minutes left however any thoughts of a come back were soon over as Cooke reacted to mistakes from Ballymoney and gained territory down the pitch. The result was firstly a penalty to take the score to 15-25 and then the bonus point try with 10 minutes left to give them the victory 15-30.
Ballymoney Man of the Match John Bellingham
Ballymoney: Ramage, Irvine, Bellingham, Graham, Platt, Hanna, G Bellingham, Richmond, Nelson, Campbell, McCartney, Cleland (c), Watson, Brace, Strang, Kyle, Mulholland.