Braidmen overcome students to notch third successive win

Officials and guests photographed at the Eaton Park pre-match luncheon where Ballymena RFC played Dublin Uni. Included were Derek Montgomery (Chairman), Guy McCullough (President) and Peter McKenzie, vice-chairman. INBT 40-905H
Officials and guests photographed at the Eaton Park pre-match luncheon where Ballymena RFC played Dublin Uni. Included were Derek Montgomery (Chairman), Guy McCullough (President) and Peter McKenzie, vice-chairman. INBT 40-905H

Ballymena claimed their third successive Ulster Bank All-Ireland League victory with a 35-24 win over Dublin University on Saturday.

Andy Graham’s side kicked off in perfect conditions and scored what must be the quickest try of the season, putting five points on the board inside 24 seconds.

Trinity failed failed to deal with the kickoff and the ball bounced up into the hands of David Whann who moved it immediately to Matthew Rea who made ground and released the ball to the backs. The slick handling which has been a feature of Ballymena’s game created space for Patterson to score an unconverted try wide out on the left.

That setback seemed to energise Trinity, because for the next 15 minutes they enjoyed almost complete possession of the ball and mounted a series of attacks on the home line but Ballymena’s stubborn defence held out.

Trinity must have been furious when John Andrew intercepted a pass and ran fifty metres to score a try which was very much against the run of play at that stage. McMaster failed to convert from wide out on the left, but on 28 minutes he kicked a penalty to give his side a 13 point lead.

Ballymena went further ahead when they were awarded a penalty and opted to kick for the corner. David Whann made a great catch and the pack set up the drive, the try coming when Connor Smyth peeled off the back of the maul and brushed aside the last of the defence to cross half way out on the right, leaving McMaster with a fairly straight forward conversion.

With the score now at 20-0 Ballymena appeared to be coasting, but Trinity scrum half Angus Lloyd took a quick tap from a penalty and scored a very fine individual try, which was not converted. That brought the score to 20-5 at half time.

The second half began with the Ballymena pack getting the better of the exchanges, with Trinity having Raef Tyrell yellow carded and Ballymena were quick to take advantage with a try by James Beattie in the right corner after good work by the pack. The conversion was missed, but Ballymena had already picked up a four try bonus point and were enjoying a comfortable lead, which McMaster added to with a second penalty to put Ballymena 28-5 ahead.

But once again they were reminded of the threat that Trinity posed, when a clean break in midfield sent full back Kearns in at the post for a try which he converted himself to close the gap to 28-12. The home side responded by scoring a try almost straight from the kick off. Ballymena seized on the loose ball, moved it quickly and Rodger McBurney came into the line a speed to score a trademark try, which centre Kieran Joyce, making an impressive debut, converted. With the score now at 33-12 and ten minutes to go the game was effectively won, but again Trinity showed their attacking credentials by running in two excellent tries, one of which was converted to leave the final score 35-24.