BALLYMONEY BACK TO WINNING WAYS

Ballymoney RFC 1st XV entertained Omagh 1st XV in the first round of the Junior Cup at Kilraughts Road and got back to winning ways with a 39-10 win over the visitors.

Omagh kicked off in good conditions and straight away Ballymoney started to build pressure.

The toon men started the game a high pace and keep this going in the first 10 minutes.

Only some forced passes and dropped balls by the eager Ballymoney players prevented an early score.

The first points of the game came from the boot of James Cleland after the referee had awarded a penalty for Omagh killing the ball at the ruck. Ballymoney soon extended their lead a moments later when some good play from the Ballymoney forwards allow Scott Nelson to move the ball to Henderson.

The back line seen some space and good hands allowed Nigel Nevin to step his man and score in the corner for a try on his first game back from injury.

The conversation was successful and Ballymoney had a 10-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Omagh found it hard to break down the Ballymoney defence and there only time in the home teams 22 came after a kick to the corner from their outhalf. However Ballymoney had the dominance in the set piece and Jonny Hanna, although suffering from a bad blister injury rose to steal the ball and Ben Henderson cleared the danger.

The dominance in the set piece continued and with 10 minutes remaining Ballymoney forced the Omagh fullback to carry the ball over his own line. Ballymoney put pressure on the scrum and drove over the Omagh line and Hanna touched down, only for the referee however to bring it back for another penalty. Ballymoney opted for a scrum at the penalty sensing the opportunity for a push over try, however Omagh continued to foul and Ballymoney continued to take the scrum option at the penalty. The front row of Irvine, Watson and Bellingham were putting their opposite numbers under pressure, but from the forth scrum Nelson moved the ball wide and Calvin was stopped close to the line. A quick ruck saw the supporting Surgenor take a pop ball and crash over the line. The conversion was successful and Ballymoney now had a 17-0 lead.

The half ended with Ballymoney camping in the Omagh 22 and James Cleland kicking another penalty to take the lead to 20-0 at the break.

The second half started with a drop of concentration as Ballymoney were penalised at the kick off. Like last week this gave the opposition easy territory. A kick through the Ballymoney back line saw their winger out pace the defence to score a well worked try in the corner. The conversion was missed but now the home lead was cut to 20-5.

Ballymoney moved back up the pitch and mounted pressure on Omagh line again. Fullback McCartney broke the line and ball was quickly moved through the hands to find Scrum Half Nelson in some space and like last week he used his size and strength to force through the gap and score the Toon’s 3rd try. The conversion was successful and gave Ballymoney the lead of 27-5.

However again Ballymoney were guilty of switching off and Omagh started to build some phases and carry the ball well. From a lapse of concentration at a scrum Omagh got a counter push on and ball spilled out the back. From the turnover at the ruck Omagh crashed the ball up and a good over load in the tackle allowed their centre to dive over from close range. The conversion again was unsuccessful but brought the score to 27-10.

Bartlett came on at prop for Bellingham and coach Taggart came on from David Campbell in the back row, who like Surgenor was playing his first game back after injury. Ballymoney now looked to play a more structure game and get back to their game plan. From a scrum they moved the ball wide through the forwards taking a number of pops off the scrum half Nelson. Clyde and Platt made good ground and pulled in the Omagh defenders, which left an over lap on the blind side and good hands by Cormac McCartney and Chris Watson allowed Captain Cleland to cut an angle and race in below the posts for a good team score. The conversion brought the score to 34-7 with only 10 minutes left.

The final score of the game came from Ballymoney kicking a penalty to the corner for the lineout. The catch and drive took Ballymoney a few yards from the Omagh line and some good recycling saw blindside and Man of the Match Surgenor go over the line for his second and Ballymoney’s final try of the game. The conversion went wide and game ended win Ballymoney winning 39-10

Team: Irvine, Watson, Bellingham, Clyde, Platt, Surgenor, Campbell, Hanna, Nelson, Henderson, Chris Watson, Calvin, Cleland, Nevin, McCartney, Bartlett, Taggart.

Man of the Match: Andrew Surgenor.

Coach Jason Taggart said: “It was good to get back to winning ways today after the defeat of last week. We played at a good tempo today and were maybe guilty at times of trying to force the ball, but we always looked dangerous.

“It was good to see Irvine, Surgenor and Campbell return from injury and Calvin came up this week and had a very solid game.

“These players returning helped us establish a good set piece platform in the scrum and lineout and we will need this against a physical Limavady team next week. “

Ballymoney play Limavady in the League this Saturday at Kilraughts Road, kick off 2.30pm and all support is welcome.