Ballymoney looked to kick off their Crawford Cup campaign in style against Donaghadee, at a ground where they had won comfortably at the start of the year. However, the elements soon turned into a monsoon, which would have a larger effect on the game that followed.
Showing just a handful of changes from last week, with Russell Blair and David Holmes stepping in for game time, and Matthew Pollock moving back to the scrum half role he is more accustomed to, the Ballymoney 2s went down to Donaghadee looking to make amends for last week’s loss. James Campbell stepped forward to the 10 jersey, with Andrew Young moving out to 12 in a slightly reshuffled back line.
Ballymoney started off playing up the hill and into the wind. As the 1st XV recently discovered, matches at the Dee typically feature more in the lower end of the field, and this match was no different.
The first half played out with a lot of solid defensive line coverage, and with the wind in his face, some solid kicking from Campbell to keep the attackers mostly at bay.
An early foray into the Dee half featured good carries from David Holmes off the base of the scrum, Russell Blair coming round the corner, and Andrew Millar making yards with this trademark Calvin-esque show-and-go. In the backs it was hard going, and Dee’s blitz defence was putting some pressure on the midfield. But one such blitz was adjudged too fast, and from the resulting penalty Andrew Young put Ballymoney into the lead, 3-0.
But shortly afterwards, the home side got themselves on the scoreboard, attacking quickly off a tap penalty, and with the majority of the side lining up open, a gap was found up around the blind side to score from 15 yards out, beating the cover to score in the corner. 5-3 to Dee, with the conversion missed.
As the wind and rain picked up at this point, the pack was having its own way in the scrum for the most part, at one stage marching 15 yards up the hill, and probably unlucky not to win more penalties as the front row stood up and split. The half time score remained 5-3.
The second half was played largely in the Dee half and the home side were dogged in their defensive alignment. Once more Millar and Holmes led the charge, with Brown and McCord carrying a lot of ball as well. By this point the back line were coming more into the game when they go clean ball. At one stage Andrew Young wriggled through the midfield, beat the next wave, but stepped into the cover as he went to round the last defender.
Young converted two more penalties to put the visitors in the lead.
Finally a try came to ease the pressure on the Toon - from a break on the right, Andrew Millar took on the defenders, slipped an offload into David Holmes’s hands, who couldn’t believe his luck as the space opened to canter in under the sticks. Young converted to put some daylight between the sides.
That was the end of the scoring, and team manager Sam McAllister was delighted with the win. “To come here on such a miserable day and win comfortably is as much as we could hope for. That puts the loss last week firmly behind us, and we have three home games on the run in to Christmas, where we can get a march on the league position. The only down side is a knock to Joel Heggarty, and we’ll check how he is through the week.”
Next week sees the 2s hosting Randalstown’s 2nd XV with kick off at 2:30pm - come down and enjoy it!