0n Saturday the JKC/Causeway Geotech Ballymoney 1st XV travelled to third placed Donaghadee on Saturday for a fiercely contested affair as it turned out. The weather conditions meant the pitch was difficult underfoot and certainly affected the approach from both sides. Ballymoney started the game well applying early pressure which finally resulted in a penalty which Rory Strang dispatched from the centre of the pitch. This seemed to buoy Donaghadee who responded strongly. The pressure applied from some rampant scrummaging from ‘Dee resulted in a penalty which was kicked to the corner and resulted in a well worked pushover maul. The Ballymoney men reacted very well through hard running from Munnis and Bell. This kept ‘Dee in their own 22 and forced them to kick from deep. A forced kick that missed touch was gathered by Robbie McNeil, he gallantly returned the kick excellently with a one of his own and he scooped up the fortuitous bounce to beat 2 defenders and touch down with a well worked individual try in the corner . ‘Dee again to their credit went straight to the other end of the pitch for another forwards based try through set piece rewards and some good carrying. Conversion successful. The topsy turvy first half didn’t end there. When again, from a poor kick and applied pressure from Scott and Wray, Strang ran deep and sidestepped his way into the ‘Dee 22 to off-load to Irwin who stayed strong to finish the try well to take ‘Money into the lead yet again. Conversion successful. ‘Dee responded in workman like fashion and in the continuing nature of the end to end half. ‘Money were down to 14 for continued infringements. The home side finished the half strongly with an unconverted try in the corner with the extra man to leave the half time score 17-15 to the home side.
The second half was a cagier battling affair and both sides making predictable handling errors in the conditions and slowing the game down to the forwards delight. ‘Dee converted a penalty to extend their lead to 5 points half way through the half. Likewise, Strang responded with one of his own to set up a tense final 10 minutes. With Ballymoney’s line out functioning well all day, a penalty kicked deep into the 22m gave the perfect platform for a final assault on the ‘Dee try line. With the clock red the ball eventually got shipped to McNeill on the wing who did extremely well to finish his second try of the game in the corner to break the home sides hearts in overtime. This was an incredibly gutsy performance from a travelling toon side and now moves them deservingly into play-off contention.