Grosvenor 3rds 12 - 39 Ballymoney 4ths
Fourths Impressive in Premier League opener at Grosvenor
Ballymoney fourths opened their Premier League campaign with a dominating away victory at the weekend, to one of the Premier league favourites, Grosvenor.
The fours entered the new Premier League format as Regional North League Winners. The premier league housing the victors of all 5 regional leagues in Ulster. Having not played a competitive match since early December. The mighty fours opened their league account in good style showing no lack of match fitness.
The opening period of the first half saw the Ballymoney visitors endure some early pressure as the home side tried to dictate the play with their fast, open game plan. Gawain Foster turning over procession defending the try line with a pulsating tackle to deny the home side a certain early score. As the half progressed Ballymoney gradually gained control of the ball with aggression at the breakdown and patience building the phases of play. Always keen to spread the ball wide and challenge their opponents defence line. Ryan Brace at fly half picking out some lovely passes to free the Ballymoney backs, who were denied scores only through some last ditch, Grosvenor defence. The first score of the game came after a sustained period of Ballymoney pressure. Good work by the forwards and quick recycling saw Ryan Brace pick out Gawain Foster on the wing with a long accurate pass. Gawain showed good pace to beat his opposite man and touch down in the corner. Ballymoney quickly capitalised on their lead when power house second row Ian Johnston collected an off load from Jimmy Speers to crash over the line for an excellent team score. Ian Johnston was straight back into the action when he collected the resulting restart and carried the ball in a mesmerising run to gain about 40 yards before being halted short of the goal line. Chris Clarke recycling the ball to For Sam Bartlett to cross over the line for another impressive score. Grosvenor responded soon after when their fly half sent a perfectly weighted kick into Ballymoney’s twenty-two line for the winger to collect and score. Jut before half time Grosvenor scored again as a high defensive kick bounced awkwardly and the young stags pounced for a second try. At the half interval the visitors Ballymoney led 17 points to 12.
Some words of reassurance during the half time team talk, confirming that the couple of late scores from the opposition were totally against the run of play, seemed to gel the Ballymoney team plan for the second half. Indeed, it was not long after the restart that Ballymoney extended their lead. Ryan Brace with the score. Chris Clarke was next to add his name to the score sheet. The scrum half crossing over the line after another sustained period of pressure by Ballymoney. As the home side again fought hard, to salvage something from the game, Ballymoney found themselves down to thirteen men following a couple of controversial yellow cards. The second yellow card issued to Ricky Miller who was having a commanding performance in the back row. Some suggesting that Ricky orkastratrated the foul to get a deserved break. With only 13 men on the field the fifth Ballymoney try again came courtesy of some good work by the Ballymoney pack, overturning and recycling quick ball for fly-half Ryan Brace to break the stretched Grosvenor defence line and off load to match captain Darren Smyth to cross the line. The final try came in the last few minutes when Chris Clarke added his name to the score sheet. The scrum half crossing over the line after another sustained period of pressure by Ballymoney. Ryan Brace converting, three of the 6 tries and a penalty.
Team Manager Cormac Ramage was obviously very pleased with the result commented after the match. “I was very impressed with the way that we raised our game in the second half. Grosvenor was never going to be an easy challenge. We were aware that they played a fast open game and scored a lot of tries through their backs. Therefore, we knew we had to be physical and dominate procession. The forwards gave the backline excellent ball as they dominated the breakdown.”
Although we had a number of, notable performances on Saturday including Aaron Ramage, Andy Borthwick and Chris Clarke. Second row Ian Johnston capped a fine score with the man of the match award. The powerful forward led from the front with a tireless display.
The fours next game is on the 2nd February when they welcome Belfast High Schools to Kilraughts Road in the League.