Ballymoney 4ths 16 - 8 Enniskillen 3rds
By Jimmy Speers
McCambley Cup final at the Kingspan Stadium beckons for Ballymoney fourths
The River Ridge backed Ballymoney fourths booked their place in the Cup final and a day out for the club at the home of Ulster Rugby, after a hard-fought and bruising encounter with their County Fermanagh rivals Enniskillen.
Weather conditions were good, even though the pitches were damp and heavy underfoot from the earlier rain, the home side still managed to play some fast, entertaining rugby. Ballymoney started strongly in the opening period. The lineout was working well with the pack also providing solid, go forward platforms for the creative Ballymoney back line. Enniskillen however, were first to get points on the scoresheet when their out-half converted a penalty in front of the Ballymoney posts. Ballymoney fought back and were rewarded with a penalty goal of their own after an Enniskillen player was caught offside. As the first half progressed, the home side began to dominate possession and the pressure soon was rewarded with two tries in quick succession. One each from flying wingers Johnny Litton and Chris Clarke. Both tries after surging phases of play by the Ballymoney forwards. Half time score Ballymoney 13 Enniskillen 3.
Enniskillen started the second half strongly as they attempted to force their way back into the game. Ballymoney upped the tempo and were unlucky not to extend their lead. Sam McAuley marginally forced into touch, inches short of the try-line, following some last-ditch Enniskillen defence. Enniskillen were encouraged when rewarded with a converted try with fifteen minutes to play. The visitors centre charging down a clearance kick to score under the posts. Ballymoney, moved two scores ahead again soon after, when Ryan Brace slotted over his second penalty of the match. The home side kept possession and their nerve for the final minutes to hold on for a deserved victory, much to the delight of the large crowd who turned out to support their team.
Team Coach Cormac Ramage, obviously delighted with the result, commented after the game. “That was an excellent performance. Enniskillen made us work hard for our chances today, however when they came, we executed them with some clinical finishing. The defensive effort in the second half was resolute, some great performances today by all, but especially by the forwards. We matched the much larger Enniskillen pack up front and our fitness and intensity shone through. It has been a great season for the team so far and brilliant for the club to get a day out at the Kingspan Stadium for the final next month”. The Man of the match however goes to Scott Nelson, the young scrum half’s vision and work ethic was immense throughout the game.
The fourth XV continue their league campaign next weekend as the welcome Lisburn 3rds to Kilraughts Road. Kick off 2.30pm