The JKC/Causeway Geotech Sponsored Ballymoney RFC 1st XV travelled to Randalstown RFC for the second league game of the season and returned to the toon with a bonus point 0-26 win.
With a disappointing defeat the previous week away to Academy, Ballymoney looked for an improved performance. Ballymoney had a number of changes due to injury and unavailability. Martin Irwin, Aaron Brown and Nathanial Steele came into the back line while Jack Dowey, Philip Beattie, Michael Allan and Garvin Bellingham came into the forwards.
The first 15 minutes started at a fast pace with Randalstown having most of the attack in the middle of the pitch. However the scene of the game was set in these early exchanges as Randalstown attacked and kept the ball but could break down the physical Ballymoney defence. Unlike the previous week the Ballymoney discipline was good and the defence enforced a number of turnovers from the home team.
This gave Ballymoney the platform to attack from and with the lineout and the scrum operating well it freed up the back line to break through some spaces after some strong carries by the forwards. After a number of phases of attack Randalstown defence started to leave gaps which scrum half and Captain Matthew Steele took advantage off to break through from the side of ruck and dive over from 10metres out to open the scoring for the visitors. John Hyndman added an excellent conversion for Ballymoney to take the lead 0-7.
A couple of handling errors stopped any further Ballymoney scores and when Randalstown had the ball they showed some good width which stretched the Ballymoney defence and resulted in the visitors giving away penalties. The Randalstown Outhalf missed 2 chances at posts in the last 10 minutes of the half so the half time score remained at 0-7.
The halftime message from the coaches was to ensure the importance of the next score as it would be the most important. An advantage from a scrum penalty on halfway allowed Ballymoney to build phases into the Randalstown 22 a dummy from Martin Irwin created space for the outhalf to break through and dot down at the posts. John Hyndman again was successful with the conversion and the lead was extended to 0-14.
The third try was added soon afterwards. This time it was the carrying from forwards McFetridge, Platt, Munnis and Allan that got Ballymoney into the Randalstown 22 and again Irwin showed good strength to break through the line and hand off the cover defence to score his second try. This time the conversion drifted wide but Ballymoney now lead 0-19 with 25 minutes remaining.
The next 10mintues was frantic as Randalstown tried to increase the tempo to get back into the game and Ballymoney tried to get the bonus point try. The Ballymoney defence repealed any attack but Randalstown won a number of turnovers at the breakdown to relief pressure.
With 5 minutes remaining Ballymoney again carried strong with a number of offloads driving play 5 metres out when Lewis Wray scooped up a pass and drove through the contact to carry over for the forth and bonus point try. John Hyndman again added the extra two points to leave the final score 0-26.
Man of the Match: Danny Platt.
Team: M. Blair, P. Beattie, J. McFetridge, D. Platt, A. Tweed, M. Allan, L. Wray, J. Munnis, M. Steele (C), M. Irwin, M. Bell, A. Brown, P. Dunlop, N. Steele, J. Hyndman, J. Dowey, G. Bellingham.
Managers Comments; After the game 1st XV Manager Chris McIlmoyle commented “It was always going to be an important game this week after the disappointment of last week. We have a good squad and although we had a number of changes all the guys are used to training and playing together. Last week we got frustrated and knew we were well capable to win the game. We knew we need to improve in intensity and discipline this week and we would have the ability to get a result. To get the bonus point away from home was excellent. More importantly we can take the extra bonus of not conceding a try in the past 2 weeks which is good as we have been away from home. The set piece was the catalyst of the win today and the extra hours the forwards have put in on the training pitch with the coaches is starting to pay off. We have a break from the league now for 3 games as we entertain Lisburn next week in the Junior Cup and then 2x conference league games. All these games are at home so that gives us time to work on combinations and manage players so we can be fresh for the next set of league games. We still have a lot to work on and we need a big weeks training so we can keep improving. The 2nd XV will get their league campaign started next Saturday at home. The win today will increase the competition for places and will ensure a high intensity at training this week”.