Ballymoney RFC welcomed Cooke RFC to Kilraughts Road for a Second round junior cup match.
Ballymoney had a large number of changes due to injuries and unavailability. Campbell, Surgenour, Bartlett, Houston, Irvine, were all out of contention however Coach Taggart was glad to welcome back Ryan Clyde from injury and bring up Neal Mullholland, Thomas Knight and Mathew Blair from the 2nd XV who had all impressed in recent weeks.
Players however did not get time to settle in or get used to positions as from the kick off Cooke reacted to a loose ball for their No10 to kick through and score under the posts for a 0-7 lead.
With the support making its way out to the pitch from the pre-match lunch Ballymoney found themselves further behind after some poor tackling saw a break down the wing end up with the Cooke winger scoring in the corner.
The kick was again successful, so after only 6 minutes Ballymoney were 0-14 down.
Ballymoney however stepped up and took the game to Cooke as the early lead seem to give the visitors from Belfast an over confidence. The Toon forwards ran through Cooke with some ease and made ground into the 22.
Some good runs from centres Borthwick and Watson were supported well by the back row of Mullholland, Clyde and Richmond. Prop Ramage who was carrying the ball well burst on to a pass from Scrumhalf and captain Cleland and drove near the line.
After some good work from the forward front 5, openside Neal Mullholland crashed over near the posts. The kick was successful and brought the score back to 7-14.
With 10 more minutes Ballymoney were level. Similar forward play result in space being made for Outhalf Skelton to find centre Andy Borthwick on a crash and the big man scored below the posts. McCartney added the 2 points to bring the score level.
Ballymoney attacked again as Cooke tried to run out of the defence. A spilled ball by the Cooke No8 saw James Cleland collect and run in at the corner; however the referee brought play back for a penalty to the amazement of the support and the players. Indeed some inconsistent decisions affected the last 10minutes of the half as Ballymoney were penalised for a number of technical infringements.
This allowed Cooke to Kick 2 more penalties and take the half time score to 14-20.
Cooke started the second half strong and aided still by further inconsistency from the referee attacked the Ballymoney line. However the Toon defence stood strong although they did add another penalty to make it 14-23.
Scrums and penalties did hinder the flow of the game and with 20minutes to go as Ballymoney worked the ball up the pitch a Cooke interception on the halfway resulted in them scoring in the corner. The kick missed to leave the score now 14-28 to the visitors with 15minutes left.
The last 15 minutes saw Ballymoney’s forwards take the game to Cooke and they scored again in the corner after some good work at a lineout. With the game now 19-28 Ballymoney needed two scores.
Cormac McCartney missed with a penalty kick attempt with 10 minutes left. The last moments of the game saw Ballymoney attack the line but were unable to turn the procession in further points and the game finished 19-28.
Team: Ramage, D Watson, Bellingham, Platt, Graham, Clyde, Mullholland, Richmond, Cleland, Skelton, Strang, Borthwick, C Watson, Knight, McCartney, Blair, Hanna
Man of the Match Andy Borthwick.
This means now the 1st XV are out of the Junior Cup and turn their attention back to the league and an away game against UUC at Coleraine next week where they will look to kept their unbeaten league form intact.
The following weeks will see Ballymoney 1st XV take on Tullnamore away in the AIL Cup. Details for the match can be found on the club website or via Chairman Craig Whyte.
The 2nd XV beat Omagh 2nd’s 18-7 with try’s from Jonathan Linton and David Calvin. Linton also added 2 penalties and a conversion to take his personal tally of points to 13. Ballymoney had an 18-0 at half time but early in the second half were reduced to 14men. The Omagh team then made the numbers count as they went through a number of phases to score in the corner on 70th minute. However Ballymoney held deep and hung on for the win which keeps them top of the league. Man of the Match went again to second row Andy Gardner who hard work typifies the team.
Ballymoney RFC will be holding its Halloween Hooley disco on Saturday 27th October. Tickets are on sale this week from the Clubhouse. For more information contact the Bar on 028 2766 2991.