Ballymoney Under-19s march into final


THE Power NI Ballymoney U-19s progressed to the final of the U19 Plate with a 34-10 win over neighbours Coleraine U19.

The game kicked off in perfect playing conditions and Ballymoney forwards started to show their dominance. With both sides trying to move the ball and early nerves Ballymoney knocked the ball on a few occasions, however with a scrum that has been dominant all season the front row of Hewitt, Hegarty and Merell took the two scrums against the head.

The turnovers allowed Ballymoney to attack at pace and the hard running Munnis at centre caused early problems as he broke through the defence. He offloaded to the support of McCrea and the fullback was held up just short. Ballymoney were awarded a penalty for Coleraine being offside at the ruck. Munnis had to leave the field with a knee injury. Outhalf Steele made no mistake with the kick to give Ballymoney an early 0-3 lead.

The early exchanges were won by Ballymoney with the heavier forwards casing turnovers at the maul and the quick line speed of the team not allowing Coleraine to play. Coleraine rush up in defence but Outhalf Steele noticed a gap in the defence and with a strong hand off broke from the half way. He kept his cool to step the cover defence and backed his pace to power over the line and stretch out for the first try. Steele then covered his own score to give Ballymoney a 0-10 lead after 10 minutes.

The large crowd could sense that Ballymoney pace and determination was increasing as they knew they needed to keep pressure on the Coleraine team. The defensive line of Ballymoney was well organised which resulted in the Coleraine outhalf having to kick, however his kick was returned by some strong running by fullback McCrea.

On a number of runs he was able to beat the first defender to create the space. With 20minutes gone another break by McRea seen him make 50metres and rather than passing to the supporting McCrea he went for the line but was pulled down only metres short. McCrea and McDonald were on hand to clear the ruck and number 8 Holmes was on hand to pick and charge for the line. Coleraine got back well and stopped a certain score, but the rest of the Ballymoney forwards arrived to clean the ruck and second row Millar picked and placed the ball over the line.

The conversion was missed but Ballymoney now lead 0-15 with 20minutes gone. Ballymoney again increased the pace of play and another booming kick from outhalf steele sent the ball 70 metres to the Coleraine line and as ever winger Rea raced run and tackled the fullback. The Ballymoney back row were on hand to force the turnover.

Scrum half McCaw took the decision to tap the penalty quickly and great hands by him and Rea put Captain McDonald in for an excellent team score in the corner. Again the touch line kick went just wide but Ballymoney now lead 0-20.

A rare Coleraine attack into the Ballymoney 22 by their hard running outhalf and number 8 resulted in a penalty. They opted to take the points with the kick which was successful to make the score 3-20 at half time.

Ballymoney showed no let-up in the second half and started the stronger off the two sides, knowing the next score could make it very difficult for Coleraine to come back. The backs and forwards linked well together and kept the ball for a number of phases until Coleraine strayed offside at a ruck. Jordan McCaw kicked the ball to the corner for the lineout and Merell and Hegarty combined to set up the maul, which drove over the Coleraine line for a try from Captain McDonald. The conversion was successful and Ballymoney now lead 3-27.

Coleraine now resulted to taking quick penalties to out fox the Ballymoney defence however some excellent tackles in the back line from McKinley and McFadden stopped a number of attacks. The forwards capitalised on the chock tackle and forced turnovers. Steele and McCaw were able to clear the lines and move procession into the Coleraine half.

A kick through from fullback McCrea was chased by centre McKinley and in the race to the touch down it was alleged the Coleraine player touched the ball dead. From the 5metre scrum Ballymoney worked a set piece from the back row. A number of pick and drives from the forwards moved inches from the line. Scrum half McCaw cleverly spotted a space in defence as the Coleraine line rushed up and he took advantage as he ghosted through the gap to score. Steele added the extra two points to take the score to 3-34.

Coleraine continued to take quick penalties in the final 10minutes and their Number 8 broke the line but was tackled short by McCrea and Rea, but the Coleraine scrum half was on hand to dart through and score. The conversion was added to make the score 10-34.

Coleraine centre tried to break down the wing, but a great cover tackle from McKinley forced him into touch and the game came to an end.

Team: Merell, Hergarty, Hewitt, Millar, Mullholland, McFadden, McDonald (C), Holmes, McCaw, Steele, Rea, Munnis, McKinley, McBurney, McCrea, Ferris.

Ballymoney manager Sam McAllister said: “The guys all played very well today. Their organisation was excellent and the determination and level of controlled aggression meant Coleraine could not get any phases of play put together. We kept the ball well and showed real majority in attack and some good off loading. All the tries we scored were from a real team effort. The front five were again superb as they controlled the scrum and lineout. Adam Hewitt came into prop from second row and did well and Stuart Mullholland into second row added an experience head and was great in defence. The backrow were everywhere with Holmes putting in some big tackles and Callum leading by example and carrying the ball well. Jordan McCaw moved into Scrum Half as James Reid was unavailable and caused Coleraine all sort of problems. He combined well with outhalf Steele whose kicking created a number of scoring chances. Unfortunately we lost centre Jordan Munnis to injury early on but McBurney and McKinley in the centre defended superbly as to did McFadden on the wing. The back three were always a threat with the clever and darting runs of McCrea and the pace of Rea causing all sorts of problems for the opposition.

“There was a large support out today from not only parents and friends but number of senior players, head coach and committee members which meant a lot to the team. I hope all will go and support the guys in the final. We will have to wait and see how Munnis and Hodges recover from Physio but we will have prop Brown and scrum half Reid back into the squad as the guys have two weeks to prepare for the final.”