Academy First XV finish year on high note

Marcus Rea feeds a pass to a team-mate during Ballymena Academy's victory over Down HIgh.

Marcus Rea feeds a pass to a team-mate during Ballymena Academy's victory over Down HIgh.

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Ballymena Academy First XV recorded a 42-10 win over Down High School in their final fixture before the Christmas holidays.

The home team showed several changes, welcoming Andrew Hogg and Josh McAuley into the pack for their first starts of the season.

Ballymena opened the scoring for the morning when a quickly tapped free kick was moved to Jonathan McKeown who found a gap to score below the posts. Bruce Houston added the conversion for an early 7–0 lead.

Five minutes later, McKeown broke through again and off-loaded to winger Conor Cosgrove who finished between the sticks allowing another straightforward conversion for Bruce Houston.

At 14–0, Down High School enjoyed an extended period where they dominated territory and possession. A Ballymena infringement at the breakdown allowed Paddy Browne to reduce the deficit with a successful penalty.

Moments later, Ballymena failed to clear from their own line and, from a five-metre scrum, Zac Ward showed strength and determination to muscle over for a try. Paddy Browne was successful with the conversion to make the score 14–10.

Ballymena Academy had the last say before the interval when strong runs from Alexander Clarke and Angus Kernohan allowed Michael Stronge an easy touchdown. Bruce Houston added the extras and the score remained 21–10 until half time.

The second half was a stop-start affair with Down High suffering several injuries and Ballymena Academy also making changes. Ballymena scored early in the second half when Jonathan McKeown rampaged over from close range. Bruce Houston’s conversion made the score 28–10.

Ballymena scored two more tries, both excellent individual finishes, when Ryan McKee and Alan Small showed their pace and finishing ability from long range. Bruce Houston slotted both conversions and the game finished with the score reading 42–10 to Ballymena Academy.

Ballymena Academy: Gallagher, Cosgrove, Small, Kernohan, Foster, Houston, Stronge; Forsythe, Clarke, S Agnew, McAuley, Browne, Hogg, McKeown, Rea (c). Rep McKee, C Agnew, McClean, Moody.