Ballymoney Rugby IV XV 22 v Randalstown Rugby II XV 13:

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Disappointly for Randalstown both the 1st & 3rd XVs opposition failed to field teams on Saturday afternoon, and whilst both teams pick up an easy 2 points, the lack of activity for the players is frustrating.

Randalstown 2nds travelled to old rivals Ballymoney where they came off second best, going down 22 – 13. Ballymoney once again utilized their experienced pack to take the sting out of a young visiting team, who on this occasion were unable to get sufficient ball to stretch their opponents.

The home side dominated the early exchanges, tying up the ball in the forwards and preventing ‘Town using a strong breeze to put themselves in an advantageous position.

Eventually after 20 minutes a rampant Ricky Loughlin powered through the home defence and the ball was threaded through into the Ballymoney 10 metre area by Adie Johnston. Mark Mulholland put the full back under sufficient pressure to bring about an infringement and with their tails now in the air ‘Town elected to run the penalty. McWhirter fed McConnon, and true to form with ball in hand McConnon was going to be difficult to stop as he charged into the Ballymoney defenders and managed to twist over the line for a well worked try. Boyd added the straightforward conversion.

Boosted by this score ‘Town began to dominate, with Boyd using the still prevailing breeze to kick long for field position. The home side were under pressure to clear as the kicks were well chased up and they were trying to clear into a stiff breeze. From an attempted clearance Moon and Johnston closed down Ballymoney quickly, forcing a further infringement and giving Boyd a chance to increase the lead which he duly did.

Ballymoney decreased the deficit with a penalty but the advantage was soon cancelled out after good pressure by McWhirter, who sniped around the base of the scrum all afternoon and proved more than a bit of a handful despite his comparative youth, yielded a further penalty for ‘Town going into half time.

Turning round 13-3 up ‘Town started the second half well with the lively Hodge running from his own line. The move was carried on by Boyd and the omni-present James Millar so that ‘town found themselves deep inside the Ballymoney 22 before the ball was fumbled and the chance went abegging.

With the wind now at their backs the experienced Ballymoney outfit gradually started to dominate and were rewarded with a try in the opening ten minutes of the half, crashing over after several phases of play on the ‘Town line. Shortly afterwards they were reduced to 14 men due to a head injury to one of their players but this seemed to inspire the remainder of the home side and they set about wearing ‘Town down. Concerted pressure in the remaining twenty minutes saw Randalstown concede 4 penalties which were successfully converted by the Ballymoney outhalf easing them to a 22 -13 victory.

Randalstown’s failure to use the conditions to their full advantage in the first half, turning round with only a 10 point cushion, was to prove their undoing. The effort and determination to run the ball at all opportunities has to be commended however, even if at times manager Richardson felt they weren’t quite sticking to the game plan. There was fire in the belly inspired and fuelled by Richardson, who will be sorely missed if he carries out his threat to step down next season. The ‘Town forwards all had to put in a hard shift and the back row of Pollen, Savage and Millar certainly caught the eye all afternoon. Young scrum half McWhirter had a fine game in both attack and defence and full back Hodge continues to impress going forward.

Team: Hodge Mulholland Moon Johnston Winter Boyd McWhirter Loughlin Hamilton Devlin McConnon Goodfellow Savage Pollen Millar

The 2nds have a week off this week and then must travel to league leaders Dungannon for their final game of the season. The firsts are due to travel to Virginia to round off their league campaign.

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