Valuable losing bonus point for Second XV

Ballymoney Second XV made the long journey to Cavan RFC knowing that a win would send them to the top of the table and put pressure on the teams around them. The home side started better, winning the battle in the set piece and getting go forward ball. The early pressure proved costly, and a mix up in defensive tactics at the line out allowed Cavan to drive over the line with ease for a 5-0 lead.

Cavan extended their lead when their scrum half made a dart from the back of a mid field scrum. Andy McNaugher looked to have stopped his run when he brought the 9 to ground, but the Cavan half back jumped to his feet and beat a couple of ‘would be tacklers’ to score under the posts. The try was converted and Ballymoney where trailing 12-0.

At half time, Chrissy Clarke made it clear that the first half performance was just not good enough, and that if the team had any ambitions of winning the league then a second half performance was vital. The pack took these words on board and began the half with a far greater intensity, and the set piece began to go their way.

Ballymoney started what they hoped would be a comeback, when fly half Matthew Dunlop made a good read in defence as he picked off an inside pass from his opposite number to run the intercept in from 40m. With tired legs, he was unable to convert. 12-5 to Cavan.

The Toon had a couple of let offs during the half as Cavan missed two opportunities at goal to extend their lead, but with time running out, it looked like the best Ballymoney could hope for was to snatch a draw. Building good pressure, the toon manufactured a great chance to go for a score, but a penalty kick for touch sailed dead, Cavan worked up field, claimed another penalty and extended their lead to 15-5. The game looked as good as over.

There was to be one more twist in the tail, when Ballymoney were awarded a scrum in the last play of the game. John Gilkinson made a strong run up the pitch and put Ballymoney on the front foot, the forwards carried up another phase, and then Matthew Pollock darted a perfect pass out to Dunlop who winged a wide pass over the head of the rushing defence to find Simon McCrea in space. McCrea used some super footwork to step over the line and make the score 15-10, and Ballymoney walked away with a valuable losing bonus point.