BALLYMONEY 20 BANGOR 13
ON a wet afternoon, Ballymoney lined up at home to Bangor looking a run of fixtures against the sides in the top half of the table.
With several players attending Jonny Hanna’s wedding, some changes were needed. Irvine started in place of Watson in the front row.
Clyde and Gardiner started in the second row, and in the back row David Campbell and John Richmond continued their recoveries from injury alongside Garvin Bellingham. In the backs Ryan Brace returned from honeymoon and Thomas Knight was a late replacement for Nigel Nevin.
The match kicked off with a keenly contested forward battle - both sides having some spells of possession and winning penalties - but only Bangor troubled the scoreboard in the first half hour.
On 30 minutes, Ballymoney created the first try of the day. From a kick to right corner, retrieved by Kyle McAuley, offloaded to Matthew Dunlop, who quickly fed to Alex Houston on the wing who rounded the Bangor defence to “splashdown” to the right of the posts. The conversion from James Campbell was good for 7-3.
The first half concluded with the upfront battle being maintained by both sides.
With Platt on for Clyde at the break, the second half started with Bangor and Ballymoney trading penalties to leave the score at 13-6 in the Toons favour with 25 mins to go.
The Toon continued to pressure Bangor in the atrocious conditions kicking deep into their 22.
In a moment of madness Bangor chose to run the ball out, only to miss-handle. James Campbell was on hand to capitalise with a hack through and “splashdown” for Ballymoney’s second try which he converted himself. 20-6.
With 20 mins to go Bangor went on the offensive, and pressured the Toon inside their own 22 with a string of penalties and catch and drive lineouts which the Toon withheld. Subsequently in this defence Toon had Danny Platt binned for hands in the ruck. The Toon line held firm and were able to clear their lines.
With 5 mins remaining and Platt out of the bin, Bangor managed to sustain enough pressure to score a converted try to make the score 20-13 and make for a tense final few minutes.
This culminated in Bangor conceding a penalty outside their 22 which James Campbell pulled wide and for the ref to signal the final whistle.
A rousing win for Ballymoney, 20-13 - with Garvin Bellingham receiving the man of the match award.
Coach Neil Beddow was very pleased with the effort up front, the resistance shown here will prove vital with big forward battles to come against CIYMS, Portadown, and Clogher Valley before the end of the year.
Next week, Ballymoney are at home to Donaghadee in the Ulster Junior Cup quarter-final.