Ballymena Seniors ended Belmont’s title aspirations with an excellent win at the Old Ballymoney Road venue last week.
The two teams had already met twice this year with honours even – Belmont had won the previous league match but the Braid men beat the men from Belfast in the final of the NIPGL Senior Cup a couple of weeks ago.
With only a few ends remaining all 4 games were close but the Braid team finished strongly and in the end the visitors had to settle for only half a point and they returned up the M2 with their title dreams in tatters.
Ballymena Seniors (83) Belmont (72): J R Nicholl, David Duncan, Alistair Coleman and Steven Coleman took on R Horner and with 5 ends played the scores were level at 4-4. The Ballymena men fell behind over the next 5 ends but the Braid rink levelled the game and the game continued to be close with the scores level at 15-15 after 16 ends and 18-18 after 19 ends. Belmont scored a single on the penultimate end but the Ballymena men claimed 2 shots on the final end to win 20-19.
James Gaston, Graham Wilson, Andi Duncan and Nigel Robinson took some time to settle against T Crawford but they stunned the visitors when they picked up a count of 5 shots on the 9th end to take the lead for the first time. Belmont got themselves back in to the game when they also picked up a count of 5 shots to cut the deficit to only a single shot but the Ballymena men dominated the remainder of the game to win 25-18.
Michael Wilson, Sammy Allen, Mark Torrington and Jim Baker started well against R Battersby but by the 10th end they were behind.
Ballymena got back in front and although the visitors went in to the final end only 1 shot adrift but the Braid men were in determined mood and they played an excellent end to claim 2 shots and the victory by 18 shots to 15.
Steven Shields, Jimmy Hodges, Andrew Morrison and Andy Kyle found it tough going against S Bennett and with a third of the game played they found themselves on the wrong side of an 11-3 score line.
The two rinks each scored a count of 4 shots over the next 2 ends and so with 9 ends completed the margin was still 8 shots. The Ballymena men got themselves back in to the game when they picked up 5 shots over the next 2 ends to cut the arrears to only 3 shots but with 5 ends remaining the margin was back up to 5 shots. Kyle’s men dug deep and when 2 shots on the 17th ends were followed by two singles they had cut the deficit to only a single shot.
The Braid rink took the lead for the first time when they picked up 2 shots on the 20th ends but the visitors denied them victory when they scored a single on the final end to tie the game at 20-20.