Ballymoney 4ths 18 - 17 Coleraine 3rds.
By Jimmy Speers
Ballymoney 4ths secure last gasp victory over derby rivals Coleraine.
The River Ridge sponsored Ballymoney side, entertained their near neighbours and derby rivals Coleraine in the league on Saturday. The match proved a tight tense affair with Ballymoney converting a penalty in the dying minutes to snatch a deserved victory.
It was a damp and blustery afternoon as Ballymoney kicked off into a stiff wind. Coleraine winning the toss and choosing to play with the elements. After a fairly even first ten minutes, Coleraine opened the scoring with their almost first visit into the Ballymoney 22 ‘. The Ballymoney defensive midfield were caught flat footed as the Coleraine centre broke through for a try. Winger Gary Pattison, making his debut for the fours, brought the scores level midway through the first half and some good work by the Ballymoney pack. Pattison squeezed over despite the valiant efforts by the Coleraine defence. The final period of the first half saw Coleraine use the advantage of the elements to keep Ballymoney pinned back in their own half. Eventually Coleraine broke the resolute Ballymoney defence for a try in the corner. Half time score, Coleraine lead 10 points to 5.
The second half saw the home side up the tempo and begin to dominate procession. It was just reward when centre Darren Smyth crossed the line for a fine try and level the scores, ten points each. Ballymoney continued to apply the pressure, patiently working through the phases. Coleraine, equally defending hard, capitalised on a Ballymoney mistake, midway through the half to score a breakaway try under the posts. Coleraine added the conversion to take the lead again by 17 points to ten. Ballymoney kept calm and continued with their game plan, building phases in the opposition half. The home team’s patience was justly rewarded with a score in the corner from full back Chris Clarke. ryan Brace narrowly missing the touchline conversion. Coleraine’s lead was now reduced to two points 17 – 15, with 5 minutes of play remaining on the clock. Jason Taggart collected the restart kick off and led the attack back into the opposition half. Ballymoney again put the visitors under pressure and forced an infringement from the Coleraine back row for the referee to award a penalty. ryan Brace stepped up to coolly slot the resulting kick over the posts and edge the home side into the lead. Ballymoney held out for the final few minutes as they retained procession of the ball to leave the final score 18 points to 17 in the Toons favour.
The Ballymoney Team manager Sam Speers was satisfied with the performance and delighted with the win. “It was a typical derby battle. Both sides defended physically. We played the territory and procession game in the second half and our patience paid off. It was a tight match and a good game for the spectators. The weather conditions were never going to allow an open expansive game. We had a lot of very good individual performances including prop forward Rab Shannon who had a solid match. Paul Roxborough at scrum half also had a fine game.” Ballymena 5ths are set to visit Kilraughts road next Saturday. It is building up to an intriguing climax for the northern regional league.