Braidmen finish Ulster League with victory

No way through for Ballymena on this occasion - but the Braidmen eventually prevailed in Saturday's match at Dungannon.
No way through for Ballymena on this occasion - but the Braidmen eventually prevailed in Saturday's match at Dungannon.

Ballymena travelled to Dungannon for the last game of the Ulster Championship League and came away with win in their last away game of the season.

Coach Andy Graham took to the opportunity to ring the changes, playing James Beattie at full back, and blood some new players, with schoolboy Matthew Christie starting at No.6 and Frazer Wallace starting at scrum half.

It was James Beattie who injected the first bit of excitement into the proceedings, making a superb fifty meter break, only for the ball to be dislodged by a last ditch tackle to deny him the try.

Ballymena were awarded a number of penalties and on each occasion opted to go for the lineout, but encountered a stubborn resistance from Dungannon which thwarted the drives.

But Ballymena continued to exert pressure and after a good period of phase play Jordan Foster was given some space and he ran in twenty five metres for a try which McMaster converted to open a seven point lead.

A lose range try, also converted, saw Ballymena take a fourteen point lead, but they were pinned back by a Dungannon converted try, leaving the sore at half time 14-7.

Shortly after the restart McMaster kicked a penalty, and then scored a superb try himself, making a clean break and running in fifty metres.

His conversion failed, but Ballymena now held a fairly commanding lead at 22-7.

Dungannon showed they were not finished and scored a converted try of their own to reduce the lead to 22-14.

The final piece of action came when Darrell Montgomery intercepted some forty metres out and scored a try which McMaster converted to make the final score 29-17in the Braidmen’s favour.

SECONDS

Earlier Ballymena 2nd XV beat Dungannon by 63 points to 22 in a free flowing, fast paced game.

THIS WEEK

Next Saturday sees the last game in the Ulster Bank all Ireland League, when Ballymena entertain Buccaneers.

It marks the culmination of an exciting campaign for the Braidmen in which they more than exceeded many obsevers’ pre-season target of simply retaining their Division 1B status, following promotion from Division 2A last summer.

Ballymena have been up around the top four positions all season and although they ultimately came up short, there has been plenty for Andy Graham and his coaching team to be positive about, as they begin to put theur plans in place for another concerted push for promotion next season.

To complement the Rugby and provide a different kind of atmosphere, the Dave Martin Swing Band will play in the clubhouse from 3pm to 6pm.

Everyone is welcome to attend as the local club hopes to sign off an encouraging season of All-Ireland League rugby at Eaton Park on a high note.