Saturday 20th February. D Watson reports.
On Saturday Ballymoney 4’s travelled to Randalstown 2nds in their quarter final McCambley Cup match and returned home victorious with a well deserved 3 – 14 score line.
With the weather conditions at home being very frosty it was somewhat surprising the game was actually taking place but on arrival the boys from the “Toon” could see that the playing surface was ok if slightly tacky underfoot. It goes to show how well prepared the ‘Money are when Aidy White comes with two sets of boots and is able to change them at halftime to maximise his grip.
The visitors elected to play up the slope and immediately took the game to Randalstown. It was clear that the 4’s were in the mood as they knew in advance that this was going to be a hard game. All 15 players were clearly focused and committed with both forwards and backs driving hard at their opposite numbers.
The early exchanges were fairly even but the 4’s forwards were beginning to flex their muscle and the front row of Waide, Gregg and McCollum were putting their opponents under extreme pressure and this was giving the back row the platform to launch their attacks. Not to be outdone messers Johnstone and Rankin were pinching a fair chunk of the Randalstown lineout as well as securing their own.
With the forwards holding the upper hand it was not long before the pressure started to tell as the home side were penalised at the breakdown giving the visitors an early penalty opportunity. Unfortunately the kick was off target and ball was kicked to touch close to the 10 yard line. However the visitors were not to be outdone as the forwards took a clean catch at the lineout and mauled the ball close to the home line were it was pulled down but again the forwards retained the ball and from a quick pick and drive from C and J.Waide released the ball for J.McFetridge to power his way over under the posts with J.Trainor adding the conversion.
For the remainder of the half it was more of the same with the visitors forwards controlling the ball, but with what ever possession Randalstown gained they were keen that their backline could expose any gaps in the visitors defence. But the Ballymoney backs were not in the mood to offer any easy opportunities as their first time tackles were superb with G. Foster, A.White and J.McPhearson putting in some impressive hits. As the game came close to the end of the 1st half Randalstown were awarded a penalty which their outhalf duly converted to leave the score 3 – 7 at halftime to Ballymoney.
The 2nd half commenced with the homeside doubling their efforts after the encouragement of the penalty before halftime and were awarded another penalty opportunity which their outhalf failed to convert. This seemed to jolt the visitors into action with a number of strong runs from the backrow with T.Hanna in particular showing his pace to good effect on a number of occasions. Time and again good possession and territory were lost at the breakdown for various infringements.
As the half progressed the visitors began to take a strangle hold of the game with backs and forwards combining well to take the play deep inside the home ’22 From a ruck the ball was fizzed out to Gawaine Foster who made a clean break to score underneath the posts with Jarvis adding the extras.
Randalstown to their credit did not give up and threw everything into attack and but for some fine tackling especially from Timmy Hanna would surely have added to their tally. But credit to the boys from the “Toon they were not going to let their line be crossed. Having weathered this onslaught the visitors once again took the game by the scruff of the neck and were unlucky not to be warded another try when K.Rankin touched down only for the referee not to ward the score as he did not see the touchdown. This ended the game with Ballymoney 4’s securing a hard earned 14 – 3 victory.
Captain Waide was extremely happy with the result as he knew his team were fully committed and showed great determination and patience in securing a great victory. He knows the team can even lift its performance higher and eagerly awaits the semi final next month .