Ballymoney entertained neighbours Ballymena 2nd’s in a Conference League fixture on Saturday and in a keenly contested game points were shared as it ended 5-5 draw.
Stuart Nevin was a late addition to the side at Scrum half as Scott Nelson was unavailable due to his father’s death early Friday morning.
The thoughts of the players and club members are with the Nelson family at this difficult time.
Although the score line suggests that it was a dull affair the pace of the game was actually quite high.
With the recent rain the surface of the pitch was quite mucky but this didn’t stop both sides trying to move the ball.
Ballymoney welcomed back past 1st XV captain Aidy Graham who was turning out for Ballymena 2nd’s after coming back from injury.
Graham gave Ballymena a slight edge in the lineouts but Ballymoney made up for this as they seemed to get the upper hand in the scrums.
Ballymena had a large amount of possession in the first half but could not really penetrate the Toon line.
Ballymoney Captain James Cleland showed the intention of the home team as he ran any early penalties that the home side were awarded.
The breakthrough came for Ballymena after 20 minutes when a good break from their full back after initial drives from the forwards resulted in the no.15 breaking the line.
He found the support of his winger and the pace he came onto the ball allowed him to split the Ballymoney defence and score in the corner. O’Hara missed the difficult conversion and the lead stayed at 5-0.
The game moved from one 22 to the other, only broken up by a few handling errors and the occasional penalty.
The score remained 5-0 until the 35th minute due to Ballymena missing two more attempts at the posts.
From a penalty in the Ballymena 22, Cleland took a quick tap and broke the defence. His pass found young scrum half Stuart Nevin whose pace allowed him to break away from the cover defence and score just right of the posts.
The kick was not converted and the half ended 5-5.
The second half started with the home team stepping up their defence and a number of large tackles coming in which limited Ballymena from making much ground.
Ballymoney waivered a number of kickable penalties in the spirit of the game and opted to run the ball, but either handling errors or the sound Ballymena defence prevented any further scores.
With 10 minutes to go Ballymena forced their way into the Ballymoney 22 and tried to put pressure on the line with their forwards picking and driving.
However unlike last week Ballymoney kept their discipline and turned over the ball to clear their lines. The game ended with play in the middle of the pitch as the draw seemed a far result for both sides.