Ballymoney 4ths 35 - 14 Grosvenor 3rds
By Jimmy Speers
Ballymoney 4ths solid league win at home to Grosvenor.
The River Ridge backed Ballymoney team, welcomed Grosvenor to Kilraughts Road in the Premier League on Saturday. The match was evenly balanced until Ballymoney took control in the second half with powering performance to record a deserved bonus point victory.
It was a blustery afternoon as Ballymoney kicked off into a stiff wind. Grosvenor winning the toss and choosing to play with the elements, the strong breeze and heavy rain on their backs. After an even first quarter, Ballymoney opened the scoring. The Grosvenor defence were caught flat footed as Ballymoney took a penalty and quickly changed the direction of pay. Openside flanker Mark Morrison powered over the line for the opening score. Ballymoney doubled the lead later in the half through Sam Bartlett. Sam showing good support and awareness, when he collected an off load from Sammy McMullan after lovely break form the centre. Sam squeezing over despite the valiant efforts by the Grosvenor defence. The final period of the first half saw Grosvenor use the advantage of the elements to keep Ballymoney pinned back in their own half. Ballymoney reduced to thirteen men for the final ten minutes of the half did not help the cause. More surprisingly it was fours stalwarts Jimmy Speers and Darren Smyth that were given the ten-minute break. Grosvenor took full advantage of the reduced opposition a quickly ran in a score of their own which they converted. The Ballymoney defence was resolute for the remainder of the half, led by Sam McAuley, having an outstanding match, the backrow forward relishing the challenge of the physical Grosvenor pack. Half time score, Ballymoney 14 Grosvenor 7.
The second half kicked off with the sun making an appearance and the wind dropping as the home side up the tempo and begin to dominate procession. It was just reward when openside flanker Mark Morrison crossed the line for his second score of the match, coasting past at least three Grosvenor defenders before touching down. Ballymoney continued to apply the pressure, patiently working through the phases. Grosvenor, equally defending hard to keep their hopes of an away win alive. The home team’s patience was justly rewarded when Sam Bartlett crossed the line for his second score of the game. Grosvenor fought back again and reduced the deficit with a score under the posts after a momentary lapse in concentration by the home sides defence. From the restart the Ballymoney pack continued with the fast tempo and again put the visitors under pressure. The Ballymoney pressure forced an infringement from the Grosvenor back row, and the referee awarded a penalty. The ball was quickly fed to Sam Bartlett, the powerhouse forward, who was having his usual dominant match, forced his way over the line for his hattrick score. Scott Nelson stepped up to slot over his over the conversion kick, his fifth and five out of five for the game. Ballymoney held out for the final few minutes as they retained procession of the ball to leave the final score 35 points to 14 in the Toons favour.
The Ballymoney Team manager Sam Speers was more than impressed with the performance and obviously delighted with the win. “Both sides were physically, some of the collisions were breath-taking. 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. We had a lot of very good individual performances, I thought the forwards played very well. Scott Nelson was also very impressive, he had a tremendous game at scrum half. We now have a week off and can look forward to the semi-final in two weeks with enthusiasm”