Toon fail to hold on against league leaders Carrick

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On a morning that started with a layer of snow, the pitches at Kilraughts Road cleared to allow this match to take place. Carrickfergues are the league leaders, unbeaten this year, but the Ballymoney side had a new wave of confidence after beating Q1 side Dromore last week.

With Nathanael McCollum missing out at the last minute, Aidy Graham stepped in to the second row, allowing John McFetridge to move back to his number 8 slot. Otherwise the side was unchanged.

Carrick got off to a strong start - an early try from a scrum showed the physicality that they have brought to their game this season. Losing first James Blair from the from row, and later Aidy Graham, left Russell Irwin again stepping in to cover the back row.

Ballymoney got back in the game and pressed hard at the visting defence, winning a penalty that Andrew Young converted after 20 mins. And then as the half was running out, the highlight of the match when Thomas Knight saw the defensive line moving up fast again in his face, and deftly chipped through the defenders. First to the ball, he dribbled around the covering fullback, and gathered to score a remarkable solo effort.

Turning around at 10-10, the game was poised on a knife edge. Both sides went hard at it with no quarter given. But after 70 minutes Carrick scored in the corner. After the conversion, it went from bad to worse for the home side as Carrick scored a killer blow. The conversion again was good, for a 24-10 lead with only a minute or two remaining.

Despite one final surge into the Carrick half, and a few drives at the line, the defence stood firm, and Carrick took the points and celebrated like a cup win - showing just how tough a match it was for the league leaders. Ballymoney can be proud of the effort, the determination, and the aggression in defence - with performances like this surely the league wins will come.