BALLYMONEY RFC 1st XV..12
Lisburn RFC 1st XV.....8
On Saturday, Ballymoney 1st XV played hosts to Lisburn RFC 1st XV in a Kukri Q2 League match and in a very hard fought encounter won by 12-8.
Ballymoney introduced Tom Woods into the second row to partner Aidy Graham and welcomed back Rory Strang at out-half in a game they had to win in order to begin climbing the League,as this side is too talented to be languishing in the bottom half of the table.
From the kick-off, Lisburn set out their stall with a constant flurry of backline attacks, which the Ballymoney defence did well to quell, but after ten minutes a lapse of concentration at a ruck handed Lisburn a penalty which was converted, giving the visitors a 3-0 lead.
Not deterred by this early setback, the home side began to work their way into the Lisburn half, with some strong running by Nat Steele and Chris Watson.
The Ballymoney forwards, having the edge over their opponents, began to force the visitors to give away two important penalties.
The first was awarded when Lisburn infringed at a ruck, Strang kicked long to the Lisburn twenty-two line and, winning the line-out, the ball was passed quickly along the backline to Thomas McKnight, who was tackled short of the line.
The second penalty came when Lisburn were penalised for diving over the ball. From this one the home side opted for the scrum and pushed the visitors back over the their line, enabling number eight John McFetridge to score an excellent try, which Strang converted, putting Ballymoney 7-3 ahead.
From the resumption of the game, play centred around the midfield with both sides trying to get the upper hand, but neither side was giving an inch. Ballymoney then had to replace second row, Aidy Graham with Kyle McAuley, following an injury.
Just before halftime Lisburn took the lead, when, using fast ball from the base of a ruck, they found a huge gap in the home side defence to score an unconverted try, leaving the halftime score 7-8 to the visitors.
The second half began with Ballymoney on the offensive and Lisburn launching dangerous counter-attacks, with both teams battling for every ball, attempting to breach each others’ resolute defences.
Things began to go slightly awry for the Kilraughts Road men in the last fifteen minutes of the game when wing forward Davy Holmes was yellow-carded for a line-out infringement and, with Ballymoney down to fourteen men, Lisburn began to pile the pressure on their hosts, eager to punch holes in the home side’s defence.
With time running out and with Holmes restored to the pack, the Ballymoney tenacity got them back down into the Lisburn half and with minutes left on the clock they were awarded a penalty.
Ballymoney’s Rory Strang then struck a perfect kick from wide out and it looked as if this was going to seal the win, but it struck a post and luckily rebounded into the hands of the alert follow-up winger Thomas McKnight,who crashed through two tackles to score the decisive unconverted try, giving Ballymoney a 12-8 lead.
Lisburn, desperate for a win, threw everything at Ballymoney from the resumption of play, and, in a nail-bitingly tense finish, Ballymoney retained their 12-8 lead and a win which was truly well deserved.
Coach Jimmy Carson, commented: “This was a real team performance today and I was well pleased with the team’s great effort and in particular the result”.
The First XV travel to Malone RFC next Saturday for another Conference League game and it is important for them to continue with this winning form.
There are some great events coming up in December at Ballymoney Rugby Club. On Saturday 19th December there is the Club Christmas Jumper night for all rugby and hockey players, coaches and supporters. There will be Santa and Karaoke!
Saturday 26th December will be the Boxing Night function with Brown Sugar. Tickets cost £5 or £7 at door.
On Thursday 31st December there will be the New Years Eve function with Picture The Sound. Tickets cost £7 or £10 at door.
Tickets are on sale now for Boxing Night and New Years Eve from the Bar or Biestys.