TOON SEAL WIN AHEAD OF THEIR CURTAIN OPENER

Ballymoney Rugby Club travelled to Letterkenny on Friday night to play their final friendly of the season and in a competitive fixture, they beat Letterkenny 22-0.

On a new pitch and with excellent weather it was the perfect conditions for running rugby.

The match started at a high pace with Ballymoney moving the ball well and limiting the Letterkenny team to little precession. Letterkenny had a number of experienced players and they helped add to the structure of the game but could not break down the resolute Ballymoney defence.

The pressure soon told as from an excellent break in the centre by captain Cleland, he passed to James Campbell who was tackled 10 metres from the line.

A quick ruck resulted in scrum half Nelson passing to Hanna who burst the line.

Another charge by second row Platt created space for his fellow second row Campbell to crash over to score between the posts.

The conversion was added to leave the score 7-0. Ballymoney continued to pressure but breaks by Waddle, Elliott and Henderson were not able to be converted so there were no more scores to be added at half time.

The second half, Ballymoney made a number of changes and used all of their 22 man squad.

However the rain had started which now meant the ball became harder to handle but this did not affect the Ballymoney performance as they continued to move the ball well. They now were dominating in the scrum and in the 45th minute pushed a scrum towards the line but unfortunately No8 John Richmond could not control the greasy ball and knocked on over the line.

Letterkenny although moving the ball well were not able to mount any pressure in the Ballymoney 22 due to the solid defence and good discipline from the toon players.

A set move from the back line created space for centre Cleland to draw his man and float a good pass to winger Elliott from him to slide in the corner for his first try for the 1st XV.

The conversation was missed but Ballymoney now led 12-0 with 50 minutes played.

Ballymoney increased the pace of the game again as their fitness started to come through and pressure on the line resulted in John Richmond coming close for the second time however this time the referee had adjudged him to be held up.

From the awarded scrum excellent work from the front row of Blair, Irvine and Houston allowed the wheel to come up on the loose head side and created space for backrow James Bellingham to pick and charge over the line for Ballymoney’s 3rd try.

The conversion was missed so the lead was now 17-0 with 10 minutes left.

With light starting to get poor Ballymoney finished off the match with a second try for second row Campbell after some good runs in the back line by Henderson, Nelson and Calvin got the team behind the Letterkenny forwards.

Again a quick ruck allowed scrum half Nelson to spin a wide pass out to Hanna who drew his man and a short pop to Campbell on a great line allowed the big second row to out pace the fullback and score the final try in the corner. The referee blew for full time and Ballymoney had a good victory winning away from home for the first time this year 22-0.

Ballymoney 1st XV will be this Saturday 3rd September with the kick off at 2.30pm. All support is welcome as the team will try to get their league campaign off to a winning start.

1st XV Squad: A Houston, S Barklett, P Irvine, M Blair, D Campbell, J Hanna, D Platt, J Bellingham, G Bellingham, J Taggart, D Campbell, M Waddle, S Nevin, S Nelson, B Henderson, D Calvin, J Cleland (C), E Strang, P Elliott, J Campbell, N Nevin,

Coach Jason Taggart commented after the game: “I was happy with the performance tonight and think it was another good build up to the first league game against Academy this Saturday.

“We improved the things that we wanted to from last week as our handling and discipline were excellent tonight.

“We looked dangerous in attack again as we broke the line on a number of occasions, but also the pleasing thing was to keep Letterkenny to nil, which was good as they were the home side. We still have a number of players to come into the squad that were unavailable tonight so that will strengthen our team.

“We will be narrowing down the squad this week at training and get closer to our match squad of 17, but I am sure that all the players who have been played a part in the two friendly’s will be needed at some stage this year.”

Team manager Robert Adams, commented on the team spirit that has been built up already.

He states that: “The game on Friday night was only part of the objective.

“We stayed down in Letterkenny until Sunday to get the guys used to each other and create a team spirit although it is something that has never been lacking in Ballymoney.

“However this year we have a number of new young players in the squad and it was important for them and the more experienced guys to gel and they did.

“We had a light training session on Saturday and a game of footie at the leisure centre before watching the Ireland v England game. It gave time for all the guys to get to know each other and from what I seen the team spirit right through the squad is excellent with all the players working well with each other which will mean for a very memorable year.”