Academy overcome RBAI under Eaton Park floodlights

Mr Trevor Barr, of Barr's Butchers, presents sponsorship to Ballymena Academy First XV members Conor Agnew, Scott Agnew and Josh McIlroy. Included is head coach John Andrews.
Mr Trevor Barr, of Barr's Butchers, presents sponsorship to Ballymena Academy First XV members Conor Agnew, Scott Agnew and Josh McIlroy. Included is head coach John Andrews.

A large crowd was in attendance for the rescheduled fixture, played under the Eaton Park floodlights on Friday evening, between Ballymena Academy and RBAI.

Ballymena were quickest out of the blocks and should have opened the scoring as early as the second minute. Following a break by Josh McIlroy, Ballymena went through several phases where they generated quick ball however a careless handing error just metres from the line denied them the opening try.

As the half progressed, RBAI enjoyed an increasing amount of territory and possession. The Inst. forwards carried aggressively however the Ballymena defence remained strong. On the occasions the game opened up, Ballymena Academy looked dangerous and Andrew Magrath continued his excellent form with the boot as he added two penalties to see Ballymena take a 6–0 lead into the interval.

A yellow card saw Ballymena reduced to 14 men at the start of the second half and RBAI capitalised with a converted try to take a 7–6 lead. Neither side was able to achieve a sustained period of dominance throughout the half however the Ballymena Academy lineout, with Jonathan McKeown in excellent form, was becoming increasingly effective. Indeed it was following two successive lineout steals that Ballymena scored the winning try of the evening.

Several phases of continuity, which included outstanding handling skills from forwards Josh Bill and Marcus Rea, created space for Dean Reynolds to race into the corner. Magrath added the touchline conversion and the home team controlled possession for the final few minutes of the match to record a 13–10 victory.

Ballymena Academy: Reynolds, Small, McIlroy, Kernohan, Hanna, Magrath, Stronge; Forsythe, Savoury, Bill, Moody, Rea, McNabney, McKeown, Thompson. Rep. Gaston, Holmes