Ballymoney ease their way into quarter final

Ballymoney RFC 1st XV put their name in the hat for the quarter final draw of the Junior Cup with a 19-6 2nd round win over neighbours UUC 1st XV.

The winter weather hit Ballymoney on match day on Saturday as the rain started to fall just before the kick off.

The conditions meant that it was never going to be a day for following rugby.

Early moments of the game were played mostly in the middle of the pitch as both teams tried to size each other up. An exchange of penalties left the scores at 3-3 after 20 minutes.

Ballymoney started to play in the UUC half but mistakes from Ballymoney and good defence from the visitors resulted in view try scoring chances.

Indeed the game was turning into a battle of the defences as UUC also found it hard to break the Ballymoney gain line.

They kicked well to the corners but the back three of James Campbell, Chris Watson and Cormac McCartney returned the ball with interest.

Scott Nelson was also controlling the game well by dictating the forward pack and using his boot to put in some excellent tactical kicks.

The first half ended 3-3 with UUC now turning round to play towards the club house with a small wind advantage.

Strong words from Coach Jason Taggart and Manager Robert Adams seemed to work as the forwards started to up their game.

However a penalty after a scrum just inside the Ballymoney half for holding on at the tackle resulted in the UUC outhalf giving UUC a 6-3 lead to the delight of the travelling support. A drop kick from just outside the 22 from the same player just drifted wide of the Toon posts.

Ballymoney attacked through their forwards with Nelson leading the way and organising the play. Danny Platt had to leave the pitch with a sore shoulder and was replaced by John Richmond.

This didn’t slow down the tempo as the forwards continued to get over the UUC gain line. For an infringement again at the ruck, although this time in Ballymoney favour resulted in Cormac McCartney converting his 2nd kick to draw the scores at 6-6 with 10 minutes of the second half gone.

Ballymoney was putting pressure on the UUC lineout and increasing the pace of their own lineout to quicken the game.

From a lineout just inside the UUC 22 the forwards kept the ball tight and battered the UUC defence, however the visitors held firm.

Nelson moved the ball wide to Henderson and the back line found the UUC defence short on numbers and James Campbell ran in a simple try from the overlap. McCartney kept up his good form with the boot and put over the conversion to take the score to 13-6.

From the restart Ballymoney again through good running by the forwards moved up the pitch.

Houston came on to prop and replaced Sam Bartlett.

Then moments after the substitution David Calvin had to leave the pitch with an injured calf muscle.

This meant Ballymoney had no replacements left and had to play the remainder of the game with 14men. Ballymoney were awarded another penalty and opted to go for posts.

McCartney added the conversion to give Ballymoney a clear 19-6 lead.

UUC’s best chance of the 2nd half came with 10 minutes to go when they kicked to the corner and had a lineout 10 metres out, but Ballymoney drove the maul into touch and the ball was stole and lines cleared to relieve the pressure.

The final minutes of the game were played out in the UUC half with no other scores coming as the game ended 19-6.

Team: Ramage, Irvine, Bartlett, Platt, Clyde, David Campbell, Surgenor, Hanna, Nelson, Henderson, James Campbell, Calvin, Cleland (c), Watson, McCartney, Houston, Richmond.

Man of the match: Scott Nelson