Ballymena 20-22 Quins
McComb 1try,Macklin 1try, 1Penalty try, O’Connor 2c, 1p
Wheels get put back on in style with a great win over Mena!
Quins visited Eaton Park for a vitally important All Ireland Division 2 league match. The Quins side on – paper was a strong one with Neil McComb, Adam Macklin and Niall O’Connor all available.
The importance of the match was highlighted by a glance at the League Table. With the top 4 teams to be promoted, and the 5th side to play off against the bottom side in 1B, UCD and Hinch are virtually promoted, while Ballymena and Bective were lying in next two automatic promotion positions. Quins’ unexpected loss to Clonakilty last time out hopefully will not prove the pivotal result of the season! The promotional charabanc is getting overcrowded and the would- be passengers are fighting for the few remaining seats!
On a bright sunny day, Quins played against the slight breeze blowing down the pitch towards the entrance .The game started off with Ballymena straight out of the blocks and firing on all cylinders. Within 5 minutes they were ahead through a well struck penalty. Quins reversed the momentum, and after a number of ferocious all consuming drives from the cohesive Quins pack, Neill McComb went over for a well-worked try. Niall O’Connor converted and with the addition of a penalty on 15 minutes, Quins were 10 – 3 up.
The home side were then put under further pressure, but an unexpected breakaway saw Ballymena arrive to camp in the Quins 22. After a series of speedy back movements, Ballymena finally scored an excellent but not unexpected try. The conversion levelled the scores at 10 – 10.
5 minutes before half time, Quins returned to the home 22 and after some fundamentally impressive scrummaging, Adam Macklin powered over from a rolling maul to put Quins back in the lead 15 – 10. Ballymena yet again returned to the attack but Quins defence held out safely to leave themselves 15-10 ahead at halftime.
Quins turned to play towards the road end with a slight breeze at their backs. However, after 8 minutes, a Ballymena penalty narrowed the score to 15-13. Quins immediately came back to life and took on the home pack with a ferocity to be marvelled at. After 3 penalties were turned down – for lineout and scrum , 15 minutes into the second half, the Quins pack again took on the home eight and drove them off the ball twice in the right hand corner. On the 3rd collapse the referee had no hesitation in awarding the inevitable penalty try, duly converted by Niall O’Connor to extend Quins lead to 22 – 13.
A penalty to Quins which would have consolidated their lead was missed, and 10 minutes of nonstop relentless pressure on the Ballymena line followed – scoring seemed to be the natural conclusion of this onslaught. Quins grip on the game seemed permanent – If we judged the smiles on the faces of the travelling Quins support as they admired the performance.
However, with 13 minutes left, Quins were penalised as they encamped in front of the Ballymena posts. Ballymena surprisingly ran out of defence and suddenly, and worryingly for the Quins supporters, were zanussied in under the Quins posts for a startling try. The conversion made the score 22 – 20, and Ballymena , having seemed down and out, were back with a vengeance, with nearly 10 minutes still to go.
The game then returned to midfield with neither side dominating. However Quins had already lost Neil McComb to injury (Michael Willis moving to the 2nd row and capt Andrew Gillespie coming into the back row.) Then, out of nothing, Michael Allen hit the ground with what appeared to be a badly damaged ankle. The game was stopped for more than 5 minutes, while medical attention was provided, and Michael sadly was then stretchered off the field, for further treatment.
Roger Kirkwood came onto the wing for the final few minutes, but as the clock seemed to have slowed down, Quins managed to keep the majority of the activity in midfield. Just as Ballymena hit the Quins 22, Quins regained the ball and a punt to touch by Quins ended the match in Quins favour 22 – 20.
This was an excellent game of rugby for both sets of supporters, with good flowing rugby. The Quins scrums were a major strength and their lineouts secure. Possession was not thrown away easily, and as a result each side had periods where opportunities to open-up were created. The man of the match, and voted for by the Ballymena adjudicators, was Neil McComb – well done Neil. In addition, I would extend my congratulate to our whole pack and the front row in particular.
Back in the changing room, Quins had gained the essential 4 points – but had missed out on the 4th try bonus. Ballymena got their losing bonus point and continue on, what appears, their inevitable drive to promotion. Bective beat Corinthians and are now 3 points ahead of Quins -but play Ballynahinch next Saturday.
Quins now sit in 5th position, and have 2 games remaining – Queens at home, and Malone away. Both would need to be won and we also hope that Ballynahinch (now promoted – congratulations!) allow us to leapfrog Bective into 4th position! This Quins team are more than capable of fronting up to the challenge.
Finally, Quins were well supported at Eaton Park and the legendary Ballymena hospitality was, as usual, brilliant! Many thanks – again!
TEAM: O’HAGAN, ALLEN, STEWART, KETTYLE, HOLMES, O’CONNOR, HEANEY, MACKLIN, LOGAN (CAPT), MCCOMB, ROURKE, ANNETT, WILLIS, HEATLIE.
BENCH: Kirkwood, Blake-Knox, Mathew, Reilly, Gillespie
3rd XV – Results & Reports
Belfast Harlequins 25 – 9 Coleraine 3
Date: Saturday 26th March 2011 KO: 14:30
Match Report | Comments (0)
By Wayne Storey | Saturday 26th March 2011
Quins 25-9 Coleraine 3
3s defend for 70mins but win thanks to breakaway tries and the boot of Cabbage