Braidmen’s dip continues ahead of vital play-off game

Ballymena's David Shanahan spins the ball out to his backs during Saturday's defeat at Belfast Harlequins. Picture: Press Eye.
Ballymena's David Shanahan spins the ball out to his backs during Saturday's defeat at Belfast Harlequins. Picture: Press Eye.

Ballymena Rugby Club’s untidy end to their Ulster Bank All-Ireland League Division 1B campaign continued on Saturday.

Andy Graham’s side lost their final regular season fixture with a 36-26 defeat by Belfast Harlequins at Deramore.

The result had no impact upon Ballymena’s league position - however, the recent loss of form will be aconern to Graham ahead of the forthcoming AIL promotion play-off with Dublin University.

Quins took the lead of 13 minutes with the opening try from Peter Dunlop and they extended that advantage when Mark Glover outpaced everybody to run in from just inside his own 10 metre line and Best converted.

Ballymena pressure eventually told when winger James Beattie broke two tackles to score before the break.

Ballymena got their second try on 49 minutes, from a scrum the ball was worked infield, Master fed full back Rodger McBurney and he fed centre Callum Patterson who took a great line to come onto a crash ball and burst through to go under the posts making the conversion a formality.

Ballymena took the lead three minutes later, centre Marty Irwin broke through he grubber on and was winning the race to touchdown but was tripped as he went over the line and the referee awarded a penalty try which McMaster converted.

Quins hit back when Ballymena overthrew a defensive five metre lineout allowing lock Callum Lecky to collect and cross for an unconverted try.

Ballymena got their bonus point try after the forwards probed away for a few phases on the line before replacement hooker Adam McBurney powered over with Andy McGrath converting.

Dunlop got his second try and the home side’s bonus point on 70 minutes.

Quins won the game with five minutes left when they were awarded a a penalty try which Best converted and the home side sealed the win with a David McMaster try with the last play.