Ballymoney RFC 1st XV hosted Limavady in a league fixture on Saturday and secured a bonus point by winning 45 – 3 scoring six tries in the process.
Limavady kicked off and Ballymoney straight away started to make progress into the Limavady half. The forwards starting winning the set piece battle by controlling the scrum and lineout. With 10 minutes gone Ballymoney opened the scoring with a penalty which was slotted over by Cormac McCartney to give Ballymoney 3-0 lead.
Limavady did demonstrate that if you allowed their forwards to maul the ball they could make yards down the pitch. From their first attack Ballymoney were penalised at the ruck for not rolling away. Limavady kicked the penalty to level the score at 3-3.
This would be their last passage of play in the Ballymoney half for the next 20minutes as Ballymoney started to turnover ball in the loose and at the set play. Scott Nelson controlled the game well and his probing kicks keep Limavady pinned back. From a quick ruck the scrum half made an excellent break through the Limavady defensive line. With support either side of him he timed a perfect pass as he drew in the last defender and winger Nigel Nevin raced clear to score the first try in the corner. Cormac McCartney slotted over a difficult touch line conversion to take the score to 10-3.
The next try came shortly after, with Ballymoney forwards setting a good platform from a scrum on the 22 metre line. A set move in the back line orchestrated by Outhalf Henderson set the impressive McCartney through a gap in the backline. Again good play by the No15 saw him draw the last defender and pass to winger Watson who showed his strength to score in the corner. The conversion was successful and Ballymoney now lead 17-3 at the half hour mark.
A clearance kick was caught by the Limavady fullback and he passed to the second row coming on to the ball at pace and he made an excellent break down the left wing. From the ruck Limavady started to pick and drive with their forward pack. Although the Ballymoney pack gave away some penalties for offside at the ruck Limavady knew they needed a try and their number 10, Eddie McLaughlin kept the ball in the forwards rather than kicking for posts. The Toon defence stood firm and held the visitors out until the whistle blew for half time.
With the score at 17-3 it was crucial for each team to get the first points on the board. Ballymoney were awarded an early penalty, but McCartney pushed the penalty just wide with his kick. However from the drop out Ballymoney kept the pressure on the visitors. From a scrum 10metres out, the pressure from the toon front 5 allowed number 8 John Richmond to continue his good form by picking and beating the cover defence to score under the posts. Again the conversion was added to take the score to 24-3.
Limavady now started to try everything to break down the Ballymoney defence but all their kicks behind the team were excellently fielded by the back 3 of Watson, Nevin and McCartney.
Ballymoney started to keep the ball and the forwards were working well. They battered their way to 5 metres out and again lead by the direction of scrum half Nelson, Richmond crashed over for his second try. The conversion was slotted over and the bonus point achieved. The score board now read 31-3 with 20 minutes remaining.
Ballymoney continued to close the game out with everyone working hard in defence. The experience of James Cleland and David Calvin at centre marshalled the back line and gave Limavady no chance to make any ground. John Bellingham was brought on for Peter Irvine and straight away the prop had an impact by turning over a number of the Limavady rucks. This kept the play inside the Limavady half. However with 10 minutes left, winger Nigel Nevin had to leave the field with a shoulder injury and replace by Hanna. From a lineout on the right hand side Ballymoney moved the ball along the back line. Cleland tied in the defence and passed to Chris Watson who ran a great line. He broke through the tackle and gave an excellent pass to fullback McCartney who out paced the cover defence to score another great try off first phase ball.
The last 5 minutes of the game saw the back line cut open the Limavady defence which resulted in Man of the Match McCartney score his 2nd and the team’s 6th try of the game. Cormac added the conversion to bring the game to a close and the final score to 45 – 3 and his personal points tally to 25 points.
Team: Irvine, Watson, Bartlett, Clyde, Platt, Surgenor, Campbell, Richmond, Nelson, Nevin, Calvin, Cleland, C Watson, McCartney, Bellingham, Hanna.
Man of the Match: Cormac McCartney.