Ballymoney lost but picked up a bonus point.
Ballymoney travelled to Portadown knowing that last season’s champions would be a tough prospect on their own patch. On the teamsheet saw John Richmond and Ben Henderson, both well on the comeback trail after long injury lay-offs, with Hanna and Beverland still unavailable
Ballymoney kicked off with wind at their back, looking to get off to a fast start. On 7 mins James Campbell sent the warning flag up with a long range penalty after Portadown strayed offside.
As the visitors continued to press, on the 18th minute a Portadown flank forward was sent to the bin for a deliberate knock on. But the Toon were not able to capitalise on the extra man.
Once restored to full strength, Portadown took the bit between their teeth, earning a penalty that was missed on 31 mins, and then scoring the game’s only try on 33 minutes. While that could be considered an unlucky deflection from the kick chase, in such a tight match it would prove crucial.
Continuing to press home the advantage, Portadown knocked over a penalty on 37 minutes to make the half time score 10-3 to the home side.
The second half was hugely contested by both packs with the honours being mostly even in the loose and Ballymoney edging the battle at scrum time.
With such a tight forward battle, Peter Irvine was given 10 minutes rest on 55 mins for killing the ball, but as in the first half, the defence stood strong with fewer numbers.
In the last 10 mins Ballymoney pushed hard at the Portadown line looking for the equalising try. Another Portadown yellow card gave more hope to the away side but it wasn’t to be. The stern Portadown defence was succesful at keeping the men from the Toon out.
Full Time saw a 10-3 defeat for Ballymoney.MOTM award goes jointly to Sam Kyle and Garvin Bellingham. Sam showed excellent scrummaging and hard work and Garvin for his strong display around the field against a hugely experienced Portadown opposite number.
Other results: 3rds beat Portadown 3s 20-10; 5s beat Carrick 4s 22-7 .
U-17s took 12 players to Dromore and lost 31-7 http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/ballymoneyrfc/j/results-reports-99128.html?official=0&fixture_id=1935465
U-15 beat Dromore 28-17, no report yet.
Coaches Taggart and Beddow will be pleased with the defensive effort and the bonus point, and will look back on a very close match with last season’s champions, and wonder if a prized scalp could have been available on a different day.
Next week the 1st XV have a week off before the cup semi-final on the 30th.