2nd XV
Sat 23 Mar 2024
Portadown RFC 2nd XV
Ballymoney RFC
2nd XV
Ballymoney 2s finish strong season on a high against Portadown

Ballymoney 2s finish strong season on a high against Portadown

Claire Diamond25 Mar - 16:02
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For the last league game of the season, Ballymoney's 2nd XV travelled to Portadown, a return fixture against familiar opponents from two weeks ago.

With several changes to the lineup and a strong wind down the pitch, it would be a back to basics affair for both sides.

And it was Ballymoney who got off to the faster start, pinning Portadown inside their own 22, and forcing a turnover, and Linton quickly fed Jonny McMullan to dot down for his first score of the day, converting his own try for a 7-0 lead.

Ballymoney had all the chances in the next spell, but repeatedly failed to get the last pass to hand. Eventually the forwards took it upon themselves to get over the line - a good take from Lowry set up a maul, and Andrew Millar burrowed over.

McMullan was next - a set piece move put Aaron Brown through a gap, and with support from Gilkinson and good hands to put the looping McMullan around the outside for his second try, which he converted himself.

Portadown got back into the game somewhat at this stage - with their centres carrying well, and some solid phase play, helped also by the Ballymoney team giving away several penalties in a row. But the home side couldn't get over the line despite several good opportunities.

The Toon men got the scoreboard moving again before half time - a wide set piece to the left, a couple of good carries by the forwards, and hands wide to the right stretched the defence too far, and McMullan was able to burst clear for his hat trick.

And just before half time John Gilkinson was able to break through up the left, beat the last defender, and cruise over the line. 31-0 at half time was a good reward for the possession, but with a difficult half looming into the strong wind.

The second half started badly for the visitors, coughing up possession immediately, and being kept inside their own 22 for much of the first ten minutes.

Portadown were able to get a couple of tries back - first through the forwards after a series of penalties, and then with a good break through the centres.

With Donnelly receiving a yellow card after many penalties, and Portadown's spirit raised, the Toon men had to dig deep to keep the score gap, using the bench to restore some energy to the attack.

And when Ballymoney were back to 15 men, their forwards again wrestled the momentum back in their direction. Again from a lineout, a maul formed, and this time it was Russell Blair who emerged with the score from the drive over the line, converted again by McMullan.

Finally Gilkinson got the last score of the game, breaking clear up the right hand side for a fine long range score. With the conversion just missing, the match ended at 43-14 for Ballymoney - a hard-fought win in tough conditions.

A much improved season then for Ballymoney, led well by co-captains Jonny Linton and Neal Mulholland, to finish second in the Provincial Premier Division 2 - narrow losses home and away to Dungannon eventually proving the difference between the top two sides.

Attention now turns to the Crawford Cup final on 20th April, at 7pm, at the Kingspan Stadium, against Ballyclare - clear winners of the Provincial Premier Division 1 - a league above Ballymoney this year. The Toon 2s would appreciate a good crowd to support them through that challenge - look out for announcements about travel arrangements on social media in the buildup to that game.

Match details

Match date

Sat 23 Mar 2024


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