The JKC BMW and Geotech sponsored Ballymoney 1st XV travelled to play Bannbridge 2nd XV in the conference league and ran out 28-5 winners.
Ballymoney were slow to start in the game with Banbridge having most of the early position but the Ballymoney defence kept any threat at bay as most of the game was played out in the middle of the pitch in first 10 minutes. One area were the Toon men were napping was in the scrum and the dominance of front rowers, John McFetridge, Curtis Montgomery and Matthew Blair early in this department allow Ballymoney to null any Bannbridge home advantage.
The forward pack started to get into the game and were making good ground against the younger home side. This created space for the back line and good handling created an overlap and centre John Hyndman put winger Matthew Bell through a gap and the winger raced in from 30 metres to score. The kick was successful by John Hyndman and Ballymoney had a 0-7 lead.
Ballymoney were forced to make a substitution on 20mintues when Nathaniel Steele was on the end of a high tackle and had to be replaced due to a blood injury. With no backs on the bench Ashley Tweed moved to the wing.
This didn’t upset play as the Ballymoney forwards took the game into Bannbridge 22 and after a number of carries a gap opened for Martin Irwin to crash over under the posts. Again John Hyndman added the extra 2 points to give Ballymoney a 14-0 lead after 30minutes.
The second half started with stops in play in for injuries and unforced errors by both sides. It resulted again like the first half with Bannbridge having the majority of the ball but unable to breakdown the Ballymoney defence. However on 20 minutes after some strong carriers 5 metres out from the line the ball was moved wide and good passing from Bannbridge saw then go over in the corner. The conversion was missed but Bannbridge were back in the game at 14-5.
This would be the last attack on the Ballymoney line from Bannbridge. Jack Anderson came on for Matthew Blair at prop and immediately got hands on the ball and put in some good carries. The next try came as Ballymoney moved play from the across the pitch. With Bannbridge defence stretched a clever inside ball from scrumhalf Matthew Pollock was gathered by number 8 Jordan Munnis on the charge. The number 8 broke through 2 tackles and beat the cover defence to score below the posts. John Hyndman again added the extra points with the conversion to make the score now 21-5 to Ballymoney.
The bonus point score came with 5 minutes remaining when a set move from the back of a line out created space for outhalf Martin Irwin to cut through the defence and run in unopposed under the posts. The conversion again was added to leave the final score 28-5.
Team: M. Blair, C. Montgomery, J. McFetridge, D. Platt, A. Tweed, D. Ramage, L. Wray, J. Munnis, M. Pollock, M. Irwin, M. Bell, J. Laughlin, J. Hyndman, N. Steele, M. Steele, J. Anderson, G. Bellingham.
Managers Comments: Manager Chris McIlmoyle stated “we were slow to start today but we still thought that our defensive shape was good and we looked solid again when carrying ball. The scrum again today was good and it was used to good effect in 1st half to get us going and get procession. The match was a bit stop start and it was disappointing to lose Nathanial Steele to injury and he could be out for several weeks. That is two injuries in the past 2 games and we hope that we can go a spell now injury free as we have Instonians in the junior cup next week before we return to league action after that. With Peter Dunlop away on a break travelling the new centre partnership of John Laughlin and John Hyndman again looked very good in both attack and defence and created a number of chances yesterday”. We will continue to work on the basics of set piece and defence as we go into a game next week in the cup against one of the top sides in Qualifying One next week.