Narrow defeat for Ballymoney


Ballymoney RFC 1st XV were unable to return to league action with a win as they were narrowly defeated 10-16 by CIYMS at home on Saturday.

Although the temperature was cold it was a perfect day for rugby with no rain and little wind. Ballymoney kicked off and straight away good work from John Bellingham saw the larger CIYMS forwards struggle at the ruck and the visitors managed to clear their lines. However a mistake at the lineout allowed CIYMS to release the pressure.

CIYMS played through their forwards and kept the ball tight with a number to barraging runs and picks at the back of the ruck. However the improved Toon defence held firm and limited the CIYMS team to very few scoring opportunities.

The first two scores came from a lack of discipline from Ballymoney at the ruck which resulted in a Ballymoney player receiving a yellow card. The two kicks were converted to give the visitors a 0-6 lead.

However when Ballymoney moved the ball they did look more dangerous but too many times, ill-discipline or careless errors resulted in momentum being lost and the ball being given easily back to CIYMS.

Down to 14 men CIYMS caught Ballymoney sleeping and from a rear line break got behind the Ballymoney team. A wide pass found the CIYMS second row out on the wing and he made no mistake in finishing at close range to give the visitors a 0-13 lead.

Ballymoney did recover before half time to kick a penalty to leave the score at 3-16 at the break.

Although back to 15men Ballymoney’s injury worries were compounded when both back rowers Andrew Surgenor and Jason Taggart had to leave the pitch with knee injuries. They were replaced with Sam Bartlett and Andy Borthwick which meant the versatile front row prop John Bellingham moved into wing forward.

Ballymoney again defended well in the second half but were unable to get any flow in their attack.

Their cause wasn’t helped with another yellow card, this time for a high tackle. However this time down to 14men the Toon seemed to pick themselves up and their best passage of play saw a great break from fullback Ewan Strang who rounded the CIYMS cover to score a 50metre try below the posts. The try was converted to leave the score at 10-16 with only 5 minutes remaining.

Back to 15 men Ballymoney rallied for a late comeback but had left it too late as again mistakes allowed the procession to pass easily to CIYMS as they ran down the clock to take the points 10-16.

Team: Ramage, D Watson, Bellingham, Graham, Platt, Surgenor, Taggart, Hanna, Nelson, Cleland, Nevin, C Watson, Cleland (C), Brace, Strang, Bartlett, Borthwick.

The coach said: “We had aimed at getting the team back on track today, but unfortunately it just didn’t happen in attack today. We gave away possession too easily and you can’t also give away as many penalties as we did and expect to win. We were down to 14men for 20minutes of the game and it is always hard to play the running rugby we want to when this is the case. We were against a larger team and I thought our defence was good at times but we just lacked the aggression to really punish the visitors. We have a tough trip next week away to a mobile and inform Dromore team and will need to be at our best to get the win.”

* The Power NI U19 are planning a friendly against Coleraine on Wednesday night under floodlights at Coleraine.