Ballymoney 4ths 36 - 10 Lisburn 3rds
By Jimmy Speers
Ballymoney 4ths solid league win at home to Lisburn.
The River Ridge backed Ballymoney team, welcomed Lisburn to Kilraughts Road in the Premier League on Saturday. One week after the McCambley cup semi-final heroics, the home team quickly returned to league action, keen to continue their good run of results and continue their chase of the Enniskillen points tally for Premier league honours.
It was a calm, mild afternoon as Ballymoney kicked off. A good crowd watched on, bolstered by the mini section players, coaches and families as they gathered early to await transport to the Kingspan to watch the Ulster game. Lisburn won the toss and choose to play towards the club house. After an even first quarter, Ballymoney opened the scoring. The Lisburn defence were caught flat footed as Ballymoney took a penalty and quickly changed the direction of pay. Blindside flanker, Aaron Ramage powering over the line for the opening score. Lisburn reduced the deficit soon after with a long-range penalty. Ballymoney responded and extended their lead through a James Bleakly try. The powerful backrow forward showing good support and awareness, when he collected an off load from Davey Calvin, after lovely break from the centre. James squeezing over despite the valiant efforts by the Lisburn defence. Ballymoney continued the scoring through match day captain Ryan Brace. The influential flyhalf carved through the Lisburn defenders after a Ballymoney attacking lineout. The home sides hooker Jimmy Speers leading the drive and releasing Bracey for the third score of the half. For the remainder of the half, Lisburn tried hard to work their way back into the game. The Ballymoney defence however, was resolute, led by Andrew Stevenson and Ian Johnston, both having an outstanding match, the second-row forwards relishing the challenge of the physical Lisburn pack. Half time score, Ballymoney 19 Lisburn 3.
The second half kicked off with the home side continuing with the high tempo game and quickly regained the dominance in procession. It was just reward when James Bleakly crossed the line for his second score of the match, coasting past at least three Lisburn defenders before touching down. Ballymoney continued to apply the pressure, patiently working through the phases. Lisburn, equally defending hard to keep their fading hopes of an away win alive. The home team’s efforts were justly rewarded when Timmy Hanna crossed the line for a deserved try. From the restart the Ballymoney pack to put the visitors under pressure. This forced an infringement from the Lisburn back row, and the referee awarded a penalty. The ball was quickly fed to Drew Mills, the flying winger, evading a number of Lisburn attempted tackles, before diving over in the corner for an excellent score. Ryan Brace stepped up to slot over his over the conversion kick, third of the game. Lisburn did earn themselves a consolation try in the final few minutes, however by this stage the game had ended as a contest. Final score 36 points to 10 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, we won the early collisions and that set the trend for the match. We played the territory and procession game and our patience was rewarded with some excellent team scores. It was a very pleasing performance and a good game for the spectators. We had a lot of very good individual performances however, I thought the forwards played very well. Rab Shannon continues to be impressive, he had a tremendous game at loose-head.” Ballymoney have no time off as their gruelling schedule continues as they entertain League leaders Enniskillen for a top of the table clash next Saturday. Kick off 2.30pm.
Coaches have been arranged for supporters who wish travel to the McCambley Cup at the Kingspan Stadium on the 6th April. To reserve a seat contact the club direct or fourth XV captain Jimmy Speers