BALLYMONEY 27 UUC 0
JONNY Hanna taught the UUJ students a harsh lesson by landing three tries for Ballymoney to record a good home win at Kilraughts Road.
Coming into this week, Ballymoney had the opportunity to put some league points on the board where other teams see matches postponed due to weather.
The University of Ulster Coleraine side were at the foot of the table but have caused problems of late for other sides in the league.
Matches between the two are usually very well contested.
This week was no different, with conditions dictating many choices and limiting the wide running options.
And in such games, an up front advantage can prove critical to the scoreboard.
With the back line the same as last week, up front saw the changes - Hanna moving to the flank to give John Richmond a welcome return at number 8, and Aidy Graham continuing his rehabilitation by starting in the second row.
As early as the 4th minute, Ballymoney showed where the set piece would dictate the game.
A penalty in the corner, a driving maul, and top try scorer Hanna emerged with the ball and the opening score.
But any thoughts of a straightforward win were put to bed over the next half hour as the students got back into the game, defending gamely and pressing and chances that came their way.
However the influential UUC no.8 saw yellow after 32 mins, and almost immediately Ballymoney capitalised.
Again, the drive from the lineout, and again Hanna emerged from the maul with the ball and 5 more points on the board.
With a 10 point lead at half time, and both sides back at full strength, the Toon knew that one slip could bring UUC right back into it.
Coach Taggart threw Matty Blair’s bulk into the mix with half an hour to go, and gradine came on for Graham a few minutes later to freshen up the engine room.
Those subs immediately got into the swing of things, and on the hour mark another lineout maul saw Hanna emerge with his third try.
The conversion was missed again, but at 15-0 the home crowd were starting to breathe easier.
The last 20 minutes saw the students’ valiant efforts start to show as chance to run started to appear in what had otherwise been a solid defensive line.
The try of the match came on 70 minutes, with the forwards leading a change out of their own half and recycling good quick ball.
The back line showed that their hands were still in good working order to put Skelton away for the bonus point try, 20-0.
And in the last minute, Ryan Clyde crashed over a tired fringe defence for the last try, capping a day’s hard work.
Campbell was relieved to have a shot at goal nearer the middle, and duly slotted the conversion.
Final score 27-0, with Hanna chosen as man of the match for his hat trick and work rate around the fringes.
This is a result which puts Ballymoney up to 3rd in the table, albeit with many games postponed for the sides around them.
A top four finish is still an outside chance as the fixtures unravel but with only 3 games left to play every game becomes even more important.
TOWNS CUP NEXT WEEK
Next week sees Towns Cup action away to Ballymena 2s.
With strong recent history in the competition, coaches Taggart and Beddow are looking to build on the solid forward platform and perhaps cause an upset down the road.
With many former Toon players in the Ballymena squad, there is sure to be some added spice in the contest.
These local derbies are always tasty affairs.
The tension will be even greater this time round as it is a cup match.
The club is hoping for a good crowd of supporters to travel to Ballymena to help the Ballymoney side advance in the competition.