On a dry but cold day in the Toon, Ballymoney Thirds looked to continue their good form since Christmas progressing to the Quarter finals of the Foster plate and picking up maximum points in the league against Lurgan and Newry.
Ballymoney started the stronger of the two teams playing with the elements. With five minutes on the clock after strong runs from the centre partnership of Dean and Andy Lisburn where forced in to conceding a penalty right in front of the posts.
Up stepped Thomas to give Ballymoney a 3 nil lead, that unfortunately was his last successful kick of the match. From the kick-off Mike kept Lisburn pinned in their 22 by kicking to the corner, but for poor discipline from Ballymoney prevented more points being scored, but repeatedly when in the opposition 22 either penalties or poor handling let Lisburn of the hook. With the half drawing to a close some great hands by Moxen sold the dummy and fed Thomas to beat the last man to score in the corner.
Strong running from the back row of Phil, Toss and Neil took the team back into Lisburn half before being forced into touch. From the resulting line out Alfie forced the turnover and Robert playing scrum half fed Neil from 5 yards out who forced his way over only for the Ref to unfairly rule the try as being held up. This was the last play of the half.
Strong words at half time about the penalty count and the lack of support at times spurred the team on. The first change of the afternoon was Gary on for Alan who was having a strong game punishing his opposite number in the scrum.
The whole front row of Alan, Ian, Beefy and Gary had a great game taking numerous strikes against the head and pushing the maximum metreage at every scrum. Right from the start Ballymoney showed what their plans for the second half were with backs and forwards interchanging with hard running and gentle hands with several off loads in the tackle to allow the Toon to get behind the Lisburn defence, none more so than Richard and Alfie who were always on hand to take the direct route.
After several phases with the 3rd’s now deep the Lisburn 22 Phil popped up from 5 yards to show Neil how it should be done and score the Toon’s second try. Unfortunately not long after that a knock to his shoulder force Phil to leave the field to protect it for next week allowing the ever improving Ryan to join Richard in the engine room and Alfie moving to 6.
After 60 minutes continued pressure and a bursting run from Ryan allowed Moxen to show this hands and quick feet to score in the corner. The only lapse in the Toon defence allowed Lisburn one try.
The rest of the afternoon they were forced to kick long just to release the pressure only to have the ball returned with interest by the wings of Welly and Robert Hanna and later Justin on for Richard with 15 to go.
With time now running out for the bonus point quick thinking by Mike from a penalty in the opposition 22, when he tapped quickly to catch Lisburn of guard and raced away to score the fourth try to give Ballymoney the win 23 - 7
Neil Campbell commented: “This shows how far our defence and willingness to work for each other has come over the later number of weeks. This was a good win for the Thirds who appear to have finally found their feet since Christmas.
“Everyone is now looking forward to home tie next week against Grosvenor in the Quarter final of the Foster Plate.”