On Saturday Ballymoney 1st XV Rugby team travelled to play Dromore in Co Down in their 3rd league game of the season. In a physical game Ballymoney maintained their unbeaten run this season with a 36-10 bonus point win.
This week seen James Bellingham and Jason Taggart start in the back row at no6 and no7 respectivly due to injures to Hanna and Surgenour from the previous week. Saturday also seen the introduction to the 1st XV of Ewan Strang who came onto the bench to act as cover for the back line.
Although the rain stayed away Ballymoney kicked off into a strong win but from the kick off mounted pressure on the home Dromore side.
The Ballymoney forwards were making up for the loss in size to the larger Dromore pack by starting the game at a high tempo.
From the opening quick rucks scrum half Nelson was able to supply outhalf Henderson with quick ball. This stretched the Dromore defence and resulted in a number of line breaks by Cleland and McCaw early in the game. From a ruck Henderson moved the ball to McCaw who drew his man and passed to Cleland. Cleland showed his pace and he rounded his opposite number and with only the fullback left to beat he drew his man and floated a pass back inside where the Ballymoney fullback McCartney raced onto it to coast in over the line for the opening score with only 5 minutes on the clock. The conversion went just wide but Ballymoney lead the game 0 - 5.
However Ballymoney seemed to lose their concentration and poor tackling allowed Dromore to build pressure and put some good phases of play together. Their direct running took them into the Ballymoney 22. Their centre took the ball into contact but was able to unloaded to the winger who ran in under the posts. The conversion was added and the score was now 7-5.
This still did not kick Ballymoney into action and with Dromore now in the ascendancy they attacked the Ballymoney line again. This time the referee awarded a penalty for an infringement at a ruck. This was converted and Dromore now lead 10 – 5 after 10 minutes.
Strong words from player coach Taggart and captain Cleland seemed to spur the players into action again as they started to control the game. The scrum was going well and they the forwards and backs were dominating the ruck area. From a penalty at the ruck Clelend sent the ball out on the 22 for a lineout.
A well organised catch and drive resulted in the forward rumbling down the pitch for 20 metres to be held up just short of the line. The referee awarded a penalty but the kick at posts went wide and Dromore cleared their line. The kick was kept in play by winger Campbell and he linked with fullback McCartney who kicked an up and under. He chased his own kick and his tackle on the Dromore fullback caused him to lose the ball.
It was quickly kicked through by prop Irvine who showed great football skills as he dribbled the ball over the try and out paced the cover defence to score a great solo try. The kick from the conversion was successful and Ballymoney lead the game again to 10 – 12.
They soon returned to the Dromore 22 and were awarded another penalty at the ruck. This time the kick rebounded off the post and Taggart was unlucky that he couldn’t gather the ball, but Ballymoeny were awarded anther penalty this time in from of the posts for offside. Cleland was successful and Ballymoney now lead the game 10 – 15 at the break.
Dromore started the second half strongly and attacked the Ballymoney try line. The vistors showed great defence as Dromore repeatedly picked and drove for the try line. After an excellent tackle by Platt, James Bellingham was able to rip the ball off the Dromore player and Henderson cleared the Ballymoney line. This was to be the last time Dromore came into the Ballymoney 22.
From the fast ruck ball Ballymoney dragged the Dromore team around the pitch. A quick charge of direction by Henderson say his pass send TJ McCaw through a gap to score unchallenged under the posts. The conversion was successful and Ballymoney how put some distance between them and Dromore as the score was now 10 – 22.
Sensing the bonus point was a good possibility Ballymoney kept the pressure on Dromore. Strang and
John Bellingham came on for Campbell and Irvine. The Bellingham brothers playing no6 and no3 combined well at the scrum and forced the turnover.
No8 Richmond picked at the back of the scrum and combined with Watson on the wing. He was forced out of play on the 5 metre line. The resulting lineout was collapsed and Ballymoney were awarded a penalty. Taggart decided to take it quickly and Nelson passed the Bellingham who set up a ruck. He then found the dynamic second row Clyde on a great angle. Clyde took the ball and broke through two tackled to crash over the line for the bonus point try. It was converted to make the score now 10 – 29 with 10 minutes to go.
The final try came with 5 minutes left as Ballymoney again attacked the Dromore 22. This time Platt reached quickly at the breakdown and picked himself, drew the defender and pop an overhead passed to the charging Taggart who should excellent pace and skill to fall over the line and score the Ballymoney’s 5th and final try of the day. Cleland added the 2 extra points from the conversion and the game finished 10 – 36 to Ballymoney.
Team: Irvine, D Waston, Bartlett, Platt, Clyde, James Bellingham, Taggart, Richmond, Nelson, Henderson, Campbell, McCaw, Cleland (c), C Watson, McCartney, John Bellingham, Strang.
Man of the Match: Cormac McCartney
Coaches Comments; “I am delighted to go away from home and come back with a bonus point win. Dromore is always a difficult place to go and to go there and score 5 trys was good work. We had to make a number of changes today due to injures and there was also a number of guys playing today who are carrying knocks but everyone played well and with excellent spirit.
“We went to sleep for a small part of the first half and let them get a try but after that our work rate was good. This week we play Clogher Valley who are also unbeaten. They have a big forward pack and it will be a physical game so hopefully we can get all the injures cleared up this week as we will need to be at our best to get a victory.”