Report by Uel McDowell
On Saturday Ballymoney RFC Under 17s played Premier League side Carrick RFC at the Kilraughts Road in their first home game of the season and lost 14-21.
In blustery conditions the Under 17s began well against their much bigger opponents. Early play centred around the Ballymoney half as Carrick kicked deep with the wind behind them and this gave the lads little space to play their usual running game. Midway through the half Carrick scored a converted try when poor tackling by the Ballymoney backs allowed the Carrick outhalf to score between the posts. A few minutes later a quickly taken throw-in caught the Ballymoney lads flatfooted, gifting Carrick with a easy second converted try. Just on the half time whistle a quick change of direction by the Carrick outhalf enabled his outside centre to score another converted try leaving the visitors 21-0 ahead.
After a few words of advice at halftime the Ballymoney forwards began to up their game and played with controlled aggression. Andrew Young and Gavin Thompson using the wind to their advantage pinned Carrick in their 22. From a subsequent line-out John McLean scored a try which was disallowed for a double movement, much to the dismay of the Ballymoney coaches and supporters. A few minutes later, good robust forward play saw Captain Ben Graham score an excellent try which was converted by Gavin Thompson.
Five minutes later Nathanial McCollum scored another Ballymoney try in the corner after excellent ball protection and control by the Ballymoney pack. In the swirling wind Gavin Thompson kicked a spectacular conversion from the sideline.
With six minutes remaining centre Steven Douglas was injured in a tackle and had to be replaced. In the dying minutes Carrick retained possesion and the game ended 21-14 to Carrick.
This was a game of two halves and if the Ballymoney lads had played with the conviction shown in the second half then the result may have been different. Man of the match was Nathanial McCollum whose effort was a credit to him throughout the game.