Braidmen claim fourth straight AIL victory

Ballymena Rugby Club.
Ballymena Rugby Club.

Ballymena Rugby Club claimed a fourth straight All-Ireland League Division 1B win with a hard-fought 22-19 success at Shannon.

Ballymena opened the scoring after four minutes with another Rodger McBurney piece of magic, when a good pass from McMaster found him in space far out on the left on the half way line. A combination of sidesteps and change of pace left the Shannon defence for dead, and he crossed for a try which McMaster failed to convert from the touchline.

Indiscipline by Ballymena saw Shannon being awarded a series of penalties close to the line and eventually they drove over for an unconverted try, to level the score at 5-5. They repeated the dose when another penalty against Ballymena allowed them to set up a position close to the line and a well worked maul put them in for their second try, which was converted to give them a 12- lead. McMaster kicked a long range penalty from the 10m line to reduce the deficit to 12-8 at half time.

Shannon increased their lead with a converted try early in second half and with the Shannon lead now 11 points, the prospects of a Ballymena win seemed bleak.

But this team has shown in the past that they will not give up, and the breakthrough came after a great passage of play in which nearly the whole team handled, giving McMaster once again the chance to put Rodger McBurney in space. He made the running and a perfectly timed inside pass found Kieran Joyce, who finished the movement off with a try that McMaster converted to make the score 19-15.

In the dying minutes of the game a great tackle from Club captain Willie McKay let Adam McBurney in at the breakdown. He won the penalty which was kicked into the corner, and with seconds left on the clock Connor Smyth drove over for a try which McMaster converted. Shannon were awarded a last-gasp penalty on the Ballymena 10m line but to the great relief of the small travelling contingent, the out half screwed it wide with the last kick.