Experimental Academy line-up beaten by RBAI

Ballymena Academy 1st XV team members Josh Bill, Jonathan McKeown, Marcus Rea (capt) and Michael Strong who are members of the Ulster Under 19 Rugby Inter Provincial squad. INBT 38-172CS
Ballymena Academy 1st XV team members Josh Bill, Jonathan McKeown, Marcus Rea (capt) and Michael Strong who are members of the Ulster Under 19 Rugby Inter Provincial squad. INBT 38-172CS

Ballymena Academy suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday as they lost 30-14 to RBAI.

With seven players on Ulster representative duty and a handful more missing due to unavailability or injury, an experimental Ballymena Academy took the field against last year’s Schools’ Cup winners RBAI, themselves missing several players involved in the Ulster Schools’ panel.

It was the home team who opened the scoring when winger Ryan Gormley perfectly timed an interception and showed pace to race in from 50 metres. Bruce Houston’s successful conversion made the score 7–0.

RBAI began to dominate both territory and possession and some loose Ballymena kicking, combined with some excellent counter-attacking play resulted in two quick scores for the away team. Just before half-time, RBAI added a third unconverted try.

Following an extended period of possession near the Ballymena line, RBAI increased the lead to 20–7 early in the second half with a try following several pick and drives.

Ballymena Academy enjoyed the better of the lineout exchanges with Tim Savoury and Chris McLeister to the fore. Indeed it was from a five-metre lineout that Ballymena scored their second try when James McClean touched down following a well-driven maul.

Bruce Houston’s conversion brought Ballymena within one score but, at 20-14, RBAI added a crucial converted try to take the game beyond reach at 27-14 before a penalty late on completed the scoring.