Narrow defeat for Ballymoney RFC in Belfast


BALLYMONEY travelled to Belfast on Saturday to play CIYMS in the league and in an entertaining game they lost 39-30.

The conditions were good for rugby on Saturday as Ballymoney tried to play an expansive side. With injuries still an issue Sam Kyle was rewarded with a start at prop, Michael Allen looked to build on some good performances for the 1st XV in past weeks again at open side and Rhys McAuley started at scrum half with Scott Nelson moving to Out half and James Campbell taking up the wing.

Mathew Blair and Andrew Gardener were both brought up onto the bench.

The game kicked off as CIYMS tried to use their larger pack to dominate the game but Ballymoney commitment in defence held firm. From a free kick inside their 22 the visitors ran the ball but the Ballymoney 8 was penalised for holding on and CIYMS kicked the penalty to lead the game 3-0.

Ballymoney hit back soon after with a try from Ewan Strang. The ball was moved from one side to the other and then in broken play the winger found space to run in below the posts. Cleland added the conversion to make the score 3-7.

CIYMS hit back with some good runs from their backs which forced a penalty. They kicked to the corner and although Ballymoney stopped the maul the CIYMS forwards found space to crash over for a converted try to give the lead at 10-7.

CIYMS again took advantage off some poor tackling and good support play from their backs as the centre avoided a number of tackles to score in the corner. The kick went wide but they now lead 15-7 after 20 minutes. The new young Ballymoney side did not lie down and showed the energy they displayed against Portadown.

The breakdown was being attacked by both players with Allen, Hanna and Nelson turning the ball over. CIYMS had their Number 8 yellow carded for an offence at the ruck. Captain Cleland added the points to bring the score back to 15-10. The sinbinning seemed to affect CIYMS forwards as Ballymoney took the game to them.

From a lineout the pack drove the ball over only for the CIYMS scrum half to somehow dive below the maul and hold the ball up. From the scrum the visitors attacked the line and with CIYMS ran out of defenders as Scot Nelson floated a pass over the backline for Cormac to run in for another score. The conversion was missed to make the score 15-15. Ballymoney added another penalty to make the half time score 15-18.

Ballymoney then received a yellow card to back rower Andy Bothwick for a high tackle. However down a man the backline were still looking dangerous at the start of the half. Quick ball from the lineout say a great break from centre Watson as he stepped a number of on coming tackles to run 50metre and score below the posts. Ballymoney converted to lead 15-25.

With the game entering the last 30minutes Ballymoney received another yellow card, this time to winger Campbell. CIYMS added the penalty to reduce the lead to 18-25. The turning point of the game came with 15minutes to go. Ballymoney drove the lineout close to the CIYMS line but were held up short and from the CIYMS scum they gave away a penalty in the teams 22. This resulted in the Toon’s 3rd yellow card this time to second row Platt. With the visitors now down to 13 players CIYMS took advantage and ran in two soft tries to take the lead 39-25 with only 5 minutes left.

Ballymoney reacted well and headed up the pitch. Now back to 14 men the pack and back line attacked the CIYMS try line. Ballymoney Man of the Match Nelson was able to extend his arm and touch down on the white wash for the team 4th try and bonus point. The game ended with the score 39-30.

Team: Kyle, D Watson, Irvine, Platt, Clyde, Bothwick, Allen, Hanna, McAuley, Nelson, Strang, Cleland (C), C Watson, Campbell, McCartney, Blair, Gardener.

The Ballymoney coach said: “A number of guys are new to this level as we have brought up a number of players to cover injuries from the 2nd XV and U19’s. The new guys are starting to show good improvement and if they can match the discipline needed to play at this level with the their commitment then we wont be far away.

“Discipline cost us the game today as we had the lead and had sorted out our defence in the second half. CIYMS were tired looking and if we had 15men on the pitch they never would have broken us down. But you cant win game with 3 yellow cards and especially down to 13 players at one time. However we have 2 league games left and we are aiming to finish the season on a high with two wins which we are well capable to do. The 1st XV have a break next game with no fixture then are at home to Dromore on Saturday 2nd March.”

* The 2nd XV had a good home win over neighbours Coleraine 2nd’s in the league wining 17-10 and having to play much of the game with 14 men after an injury to fullback Nigel Nevin. However they face their neighbours Coleraine again at Ballymoney next week in the quarter final of the Crawford Cup as the Toon men look to avenge last year’s cup final. The reward for a win will be a home semi final draw.