Ballymoney RFC: I XV 15 v Dromore RFC I XV 15 + II XV 14 v Ballynahinch RFC III XV 29 + IV XV 4 v CIYMS RFC III XV 56 + Ladies I XV 20 v Ballyshannon RFC I XV 17

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Ballymoney RFC Results – 21st and 22nd September

1s draw, Ladies win, 2s and 4s lose

1s: 15-15 away to Dromore: Link
2s: 14-29 loss at home to Hinch 3s: REPORT BELOW
4s: 7-56 loss away to CIYMS 3s: REPORT BELOW

Ladies: 20-17 win away at Ballyshannon.

Too little too late
by Andy Borthwick

Hinch prove too good in the end – 2s: 14-29 loss at home to Hinch 3s

With all of the other teams away, Ballymoney 2s took to the main pitch at Kilraughts Road looking to atone for two poor defeats. With the Ballynahinch 3s being the reigning league and cup champions, there was really nothing to lose.

Captain Darren Smyth was able to select an experienced side, with Aidy White answering a late call-up for his first game of the season at full back, Andy Borthwick taking his first steps back from a knee injury in pre-season, and John McFetridge making a rare appearance in a higher side due to his availability. Michael Allan stepped down from the 1s, Neal Mulholland was back from England, and Kenny McAneaney stepped up from a man of the match performance last week in the 3s.

With all of those changes, however, it would prove harder for the Ballymoney men to put it right than for Hinch. The first few minutes set the tone for the game, with Ballymoney having good possession and territory, but not converting that into real scoring chances.

By contrast, the Hinch 3s are a well oiled machine, and their ability to convert chances to points was evident throughout. In the first half, one missed tackle led to the opening score, and then a well executed maul showed their prowess up front for the second try.

Ballymoney were not out of the game, and had some good attacking ball. The otherwise excellent Hinch number 8 was sin-binned after a series of penalties in the rucks. With the extra man, Ballymoney went for the try in the forwards, but were repeatedly held out.

Just before half time, a third Hinch try looked like being a hammer blow. After sustained Toon pressure, Mulholland was held up, and from the resulting defensive scrum, the winger managed to follow up and retain the box clearance, and good support work eventually put the winger in the corner for a length of the field score.

In weeks gone by, heads would have gone down at this point, but Ballymoney seemed to come out stronger in the second half. Michael Allan started to find some impact in the tackle, and Garvin Bellingham started to show up more in the loose.

Despite increasing the pressure, Ballymoney were still finding it hard to cross the line, turning down kickable penalties to keep attacking, but to little avail.

Another try came against the run of play, again from a Hinch defensive scrum. The scrum wheeled enough to pull in the back row, and from the resulting overlap the winger broke through, and the support was on hand to finish off.

Meanwhile Ballymoney were still making inroads when they had possession, Neal Mulholland twice going over the line only for the grounding to be disallowed.

In the last 20 minutes, Ballymoney finally started to find some continuity. A series of penalties on the 5m line eventually led to a penalty try. This was perhaps a little harsh on the Hinch side, but the referee was very decisive at the breakdown all day.

More convincing attacking play saw good breaks from Garvin Bellingham in midfield and Neal Mulholland up the blind side. But Ballymoney conceded one more score, paying the price for trying too hard to keep the ball alive, and turning over possession deep in their own half – Hinch duly recycled and scored before the defence could re-organise.

In the last minutes, and with the lineout finally coming together, a good catch and drive allowed Ballymoney a bit of space around the fringes. Michael Allan broke from the maul and was driven through the last defender to score. A consolation perhaps, but an important score to make the scoreboard reflect a closer match than would otherwise have been suggested.

Team manager Peter Shields was keen to highlight the positives. “We had a great second half performance for the most part, and showed good team spirit to come back at them, but in the end we were beaten by the better side.”

The 2s have the week off next week, then make the short journey to Rugby Road to take on Coleraine on the 5th of October.

Tough day in Belfast
by Andy Borthwick 4s: 7-56 loss away to CIYMS 3s

Ballymoney rue defensive errors

There were a few good performances but too many gaps in the defence made CI the much better team on the day. Toss Skelton got the only away score, with Slippy Lyons converting.

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