Ballymoney too strong for lurgan

Neil Mulholland was in great form for Ballymoney on Saturday.INBM39-14 043SC.
Neil Mulholland was in great form for Ballymoney on Saturday.INBM39-14 043SC.

The JKC BMW-sponsored Ballymoney RFC 1st XV entertained Lurgan at Kilraughts Road and in a vital league game the Toon men ran out comfortable 23-9 winners.

It was perfect conditions for what was again an important league game as Ballymoney looked to maintain their unbeaten league run.

It was the home side that started the stronger and early inroads into the Lurgan half resulted in outhalf Andy Young converting two penalties to give the home side a 6-0 lead.

However some ill-discipline let Lurgan back into the game as their full back struck over two long range penalties to draw level. On 20 minutes Lurgan took the lead after Captain John McFertridge received a yellow card for a tip tackle which looked to be a harsh decision. However 6-9 behind Ballymoney were still dominating the scrum and lineout.

McFetridge returned to the pitch and made an immediate impact. The forwards set up the maul from the lineout and drove for the line and Peter Irvine touched down to score the opening try.

The conversion went wide but Ballymoney had now regained the lead 11-9 and that is how the score remained until half time.

Ballymoney knew they had the chance to really close the game out if they could get the first score of the half and that is what they did.

Again the maul from the lineout took Ballymoney right to the try line and then good forward play resulted in a try for Michael Allen. Again the conversion went wide but Ballymoney now had a 7 point gap to lead 16-9.

Lurgan were starting to get frustrated as any attempt to get out of their half was repelled by Ballymoney. The pressure was rewarded again through the forwards when prop Matthew Blair was held up over the line.

Ballymoney applied the pressure at the scrum but were stopped just short of the line, but again some tight play resulted in Blair getting his try as he barged over from a few yards out. The conversion was added this time by Young to put the game out of Lurgan reach at 23-9.

With the chance now there for a Bonus Point try Ballymoney pushed hard in the last 10 minutes but the try didn’t come and the final whistle blew for a well-deserved 23-9 win.

Speaking afterwards coach Johnny Hanna said: “We had a few changes today with Adam Pollock coming in at open side, Gary Pattison on the wing and Garvin Bellingham come up the bench.

“The changes didn’t seem to effect the flow of the game and we looked the stronger and fitter team as the game went on. Again it showed today how much we have improved since the beginning of the season.

“However it wasn’t a perfect performance as we should have really pushed on and got the bonus point.

“We also never really got the ball through our back line today to stretch Lurgan but we can work on this again at training. The defence was super today and Lurgan have been scoring a lot of tries in the league and to keep them out was very good.

“We have another very tricky game next week as we travel to Newry who are always a very difficult team to beat at home.”

Team: P.Irvine, K.McAneaney, A. Brown, J. Bleakly, N. Mullholland, M.Allen, A.Pollock, J.McFetridge, M.Steele, A.Young, J.Cleland, C.Watson, N.Steele, G.Pattison, N.Nevin, M.Blair, G.Bellingham

Man of the match: Neil Mullholland