ON a cracking day for rugby, Ballymoney travelled to Donaghadee looking to continue building on the last few weeks of progess - and they didn’t disappoint.
Once again the bulk of the squad was unchanged, however Danny Platt’s injury from last week had not sufficiently recovered, so Garvin Bellingham came into the back row and Andy Gardiner moved across to second row.
Electing to play up the hill, the first few minutes showed the pack’s power that would be evident all day, winning turnovers in the scrum against the head. The first 20 minutes were well contested, with a penalty apiece to show for all the initial effort.
On 26 mins, Dee went 10-3 up after a kick to the corner and several phases of play. But three minutes later, Dave Watson crossed the line, after the kick off was regained and some good patterns of play.
A Donaghadee penalty on 32 mins then led to a repeat of the first try. The restart again was won back, a few more phases of play, and this time Ryan Clyde scored in the same corner. Campbell knocked over the conversion for a 15-13 half time lead.
The second half started with Ballymoney exerting more pressure. A kick to the corner and driving maul was nearly wasted with a knock on, but such was the scrum pressure that Scott Nelson was able to pick up and dot down for the third try, for 22-13.
Another penalty from Campbell, and the Toon were starting to open up a gap. When Donaghadee lost a man to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle after an hour, the chance was there to really stretch the lead.
Ballymoney did not let the chance slide, Nigel Nevin scored almost immediately in the corner after sustained build-up play. And 5 mins later Garvin Bellingham ran fully 40m from the base of a ruck to score. Both were converted for 39-13.
Fortunately for Ballymoney, the lead was sufficient, for first Bellingham, and then Nelson saw yellow for breakdown offences. Donaghadee managed a late consolation, but the result was not in doubt by this point.
At full time, a 39-18 win, a bonus point away from home, and a man of the match award for Ryan Clyde were good outcomes to take from the trip.
Ballymoney now move to a more comfortable position in the table and look to attack the top half in the coming weeks.
First up, however, is Dromore at home next week in the Ulster Junior Cup, where Ballymoney will look to go one better than the draw a few weeks ago in the league.
* 2s lose in Coleraine - A heavy pack was not enough to subdue a strong running Coleraine 2s side, but Ballymoney will be left wondering if they might have got their first win of the season had events turned out differently.
Ballymoney welcomed back Peter Irvine from his spell in China, and Davy Calvin was deemed fit enough to start. Reshuffles in the 1st XV meant that Peter Shields also stepped in to play after a cameo for the 5s last week.
In the early stages, Ballymoney showed their hand, using the control in the pack to good purpose, and the experience of Calvin, Borthwick, and Smyth in the midfield was enough to find some gaps in the Coleraine defence. With about 10 mins on the clock, a 15m maul from the lineout sucked in the defence for Andy Borthwick to break through on a short ball from Calvin, and step around the cover to score.
However, a nasty injury to Michael Allan meant the end of his game, and the extra man for an hour would be too much to cope with. And when Peter Shields needed treatment for 15 mins in the first half, Coleraine took advantage, scoring tries through their centres and wingers when the numbers ran out.
Ballymoney did manage another try, somewhat controversially, as Neal Mulholland managed to create and pounce on a loose ball from the back of the scrum, but that was too little too late. And when Coleraine lost a man to the sin bin, the was not enough in the tank to take advantage of the equal numbers.
In the end, another day might have meant a different result, but Ballymoney now are left still without a win, and some hard work is needed to get the results right on the pitch.
* Results Roundup: 1st: win 39-18 at Donaghadee
2s lose 34-12 at Coleraine
3s match cancelled
4s lost 13-24 at home to Dromore 3
5s lost 7-29 to Ballynahinch 7s
U17 won 51-12 at Limavady
U15 won 47-12 at Dungannon
U13 won 38-37 at Dungannon
* Close win for Ballymoney RFC Under 13s at Dungannon - On Saturday Ballymoney RFC Under 13s travelled to Dungannon for their first league game and came away with a hard fought victory by 38 pts to 37 pts.
As some regular players were missing Ballymoney had to field several new players for this match and within the first ten minutes were 15 -0 down. This did not dishearten the Ballymoney boys who fought back ably led by Lee Culbertson and it was from good forward play that allowed Lee Culbertson to release J. Doak to score their first try which was unconverted. Dungannon responded immediately by scoring a converted try which left the halftime score at 22 pts to 5pts in Dungannon’s favour.
From the re-start Ballymoney began to take Dungannon on in the forwards with good work by Adam Donnelly and A. Tweed coming to the fore. From a resulting ruck Lee Culbertson scored a try which he converted himself. From the re-start fly half R.Ferris ran from his own 22 to score a try which he also converted himself. This was followed by 2 tries from J.Doak both of which were converted by Lee Culbertson.
Dungannon responded by scoring 3 unconverted tries and with seconds remaining scrumhalf Lee Culbertson scored the winning try to make the final score 38-37 in Ballymoney’s favour.
Players to note were Brandon Boyd and Rhys Holmes.
Men of the Match were L. Culbertson and J.Doak.
Ballymoney coach Stephen Tweed said: “This was a great performance from a very young and inexperienced team which will only get better as the season progresses. Well done Boys great win”.
* Ballymoney RFC Under 15s Defeat Dungannon
Ballymoney U15s played Dungannon in their first league match of the 2013-14 season on Saturday and won comfortably by 47 pts to 21.
In perfect playing conditions Ballymoney took the game to Dungannon and the forwards worked hard to contain their opponents with great work from Matthew McConaghy, Adam Coulter and Graham Donnelly.
From a ruck Brian O’Neill released Stevie Culbertson who neatly sidestepped his opposite number to set up Matty Bell to score a try which he converted himself. Four further tries were scored with Jonny Storey claiming two, Graham Donnelly and Matty Bell, all of which were converted leaving the halftime score at 35-0 in favour of Ballymoney.
The second half started with Dungannon pressing forward and they came back into the game by scoring three good tries, all of which were converted. This spurred the Ballymoney boys on and immediately they replied with tries from Jonny Storey and James Orr, one of which was converted by Matty Bell leaving the final score at 47 points to 21 in Ballymoney’s favour.
A special mention has to go to Craig Holmes who played fantastically for Dungannon on his first ever game.
Man of the Match was shared between Matthew Bell and Stevie Culbertson.
Coach Mark Culbertson commented: “This is a fine young team who play with great enthusiasm and energy. This could be a promising season for the Under 15s and Ballymoney Youth Rugby. Keep up the good work lads, UP THE TOON”.
* Good Win for Ballymoney RFC Under 17s
On Saturday Ballymoney Under 17s travelled to Limavady for a friendly fixture and came away with a resounding 51-12 win.
Playing in excellent conditions the Under 17s controlled the first half winning excellent ball in all phases of the game and the halftime score of 29-0 reflected this with tries being scored by Steven Douglas, Chris Campbell, Gary Pattison, Alan McBurney and Nathanial McCollum, two of which were converted by Andrew Young.
The second half was a scrappy affair with the Under 17s losing their focus and control of the game which allowed a young Limavady team to score two well worked tries, one of which was converted.
The Under 17s eventually ran out comfortable winners with a further try by Jack Kane, two by Gary Pattison and another by Steven Douglas, one of which was converted by Gary Pattison.
Players of note were forwards Gary Balmer and Ben Graham and backs Steven Douglas and Gary Pattison.
Coach Uel McDowell said: “This is a really good team which will be able to show their full potential provided players turn up for training, maintain an interest in the game and work at their fitness”.
Team: A.McIlwrath, B. Graham, G.Balmer, B. Adams, T.McMullan, M. Johnston, N.McCollum, A.McBurney, C.Campbell, A.Young, A.Brown, S.Douglas, J.Kane, G.Thompson, G.Pattison