RUGBY: Ballymoney Firsts beaten

Ballymoney lost captain, John McFetridge to injury.. PICTURE: Uel McDowell
Ballymoney lost captain, John McFetridge to injury.. PICTURE: Uel McDowell

On Saturday, the JKC sponsored Ballymoney 1st XV made the trip to Mallusk to face a tricky away tie to Academy.

Ballymoney kicked off with the wind at their back and immediately Academy went on the attack, recycling the ball well in tricky conditions.

After several phases, the ref penalised Ballymoney at the ruck. Academy opted to kick for goal but their attempt went just wide of the posts.

Ballymoney launched their first attack from a scrum when McFetridge went blind and the ball was recycled to Irwin who placed the ball over the home defence deep in their 22. From the line out the ball was moved out to Ramage who ran a hard line but unfortunately the ball was spilled, giving Academy scrum advantage. This was followed by another driving maul which again was turned over when an away score looked on the cards.

Ballymoney continued to press deep in the Academy half but a combination of errors and a resolute home defence kept the attack at bay. Midway through the half an injury to McFetridge ended his game and Stevenson replaced him .

A breakaway attack from Academy put the toon on the back foot deep in their own 22 and as the ball was moved to the corner, Ramage made a try saving tackle holding the Academy attacker up. However from the resulting scrum, the Academy pack drove ‘Money off the ball right to the try line, with the scrumhalf scoring. Conversion missed.

Ballymoney continued to press and received a penalty deep in the 22, Cleland opted to go for the corner but unfortunately from the lineout the ball did not go in straight and the ref blew for half time.

The second half saw Academy use the strong wind at their back now to peg Ballymoney back at every opportunity, meaning the Toon had to attack from deep. Five minutes in, a penalty gave the Academy kicker the opportunity to stretch the lead using the strong wind on his back, increasing the score to 8-0.

It seemed that it wasn’t going to be Ballymoney’s day when another penalty increased the score to 11-0.

Academy defended like their lives depended on it although they did cause the Toon a lot of problems in the scrum.

Ballymoney threw everything at the home side for the remainder of the game but was to no avail and Academy took the points with an 11-0 win.

After the game Jonny Hanna was naturally disappointed to lose the game but admitted the conditions made it difficult.

“We always knew coming here would be a big test and it certainly was, although we had more possession we failed to take advantage of that, even though we played well enough we weren’t clinical enough and fair play to Academy they took their chances and scored so we have no complaints,” he said.

“We need to bounce back from this defeat and next up is an away trip to Limavady, where we really do need to eliminate the errors from our game.

“Another low point today was the injury to our captain early in the game but hopefully we’ll get him back to fitness sooner rather than later as we enter a crucial part of the season with fixtures coming thick and fast. In the meantime a big push will be required on the training field this week to right the wrongs.”