Second XV too strong for Larne in Towns’ Cup

Ben O'Ryan breaks clear of the Larne cover. Picture: Ardclinis Photography.
Ben O'Ryan breaks clear of the Larne cover. Picture: Ardclinis Photography.

Ballymena Second XV recorded a crushing 55-14 victory over neighbours Larne in Saturday’s Powerade Towns’ Cup tie.

The Seconds, representing the Eaton Park club in the prestigious competition, made the short journey over Shane’s Hill to play their second round tie, having knocked out Dungannon in the first round.

This was their fifth away cup match of the season, so fingers are crossed that the draw for the next round of this competition may be a bit kinder.

Larne are currently a Division 3 Qualifying League side, enjoying a reasonably successful season, and for the first fifteen minutes of the game thwarted all Ballymena’s efforts to get on the scoreboard.

But from a scrum the ball was moved quickly to left wing Jonny Rosborough, who rounded his opposite number to outpace the cover and score a good try half way out on the left, which was converted by Tim Small, who shortly after kicked a penalty to open up a ten point lead.

Any complacency Ballymena may have felt was dispelled when the Larne left wing shook off a number of ineffectual tackles to run fifty metres and score between the posts.

The simple conversion made the score 10-7, and the only improvement to Ballymena’s tally before half time was another Small penalty.

The second half was a totally different story as the efforts that the Larne players had made in keeping Ballymena out took their toll.

The pace and fitness of the visitors proved too much, and Larne conceded six tries, all of which were converted by Small.

Minutes after the restart Jonny Rosborough was given a scoring pass by Small, and shortly afterwards Chris Smyth picked up the ball from a line out drive and found his way to the line.

David Whann showed his pace and his skill to score another long range try, after a midfield burst by Alan Smyth good handling put James Beattie in for a try.

The conversions by Small brought the score at that point to 41-7, but the impetus was slowed momentarily when a long floated pass was intercepted by the Larne centre who ran most of the length of the field to score a converted try.

That may have cheered up the Larne support, but it was a short respite as Ballymena scored a further fourteen points through tries by James Beattie and Adam McBurney and two more conversions by Small.

A convincing win, but if this team is to make further progress against the good sides left in the quarter final draw, it will have to reduce the number of basic errors that it made, which fortunately on the day Larne could not exploit.

FIRSTS

Meanwhile, Ballymena’s First XV resume duty this weekend after a number of weeks of inactivity.

It’s straight back into the hustle and bustle of the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League campaign for Andy Graham’s men as they host UL Bohemian at Eaton Park (2.30pm).

Ballymena have enjoyed a tremendous first half of the season on their return to the second tier of Irish club rugby, following promotion last season. They already have eight wins on the board form 12 matches this season and will expect to add to that tally at the expense of their relegation-threatened Limerick opponents on Saturday.

Ballymena suffered a setback in their most recent AIL game when they lost narrowly to Dublin University, who are level on points with Ballymena in joint third position but have a slightly better points difference.

Both those side are three points behind Garryowen in second, who are a point behind leaders Galwegians, who have to visit Eaton Park next month, so there is a lot of rugby to be played before Ballymena can start to think about the prospect of a return to Irish rugby’s top table.