Ballymena made the long trip to Cork to take on Dolphin,just relegated from Division 1A of the All Ireland League, and came away convincing winners by 37 points to 10.
The first half was a pretty dour affair with both sides testing each other out but not achieving a great deal, but Ballymena looked the better outfit.
Despite that, they fell behind after taking the lead with a Richie McMaster penalty, when the referee awarded Dolphin a penalty try for pulling down the maul. That made the score 7-3 at the break.
The second half was a different story, with Ballymena playing a brand of fast open rugby that Dolphin struggle to contain, although they did stretch their lead to 10-3 early in the half with a penalty.
McMaster converted a penalty to bring the score back to 10-6, and from that moment on Ballymena took control of the game and scored five tries without reply, getting a valuable bonus point.
All the tries came through the backs, with Jordan Foster getting the first of them after some good handling by the backs. The second try came after Roger McBurney made a good run from deep to set up a position for Glenn Baillie, playing in the centre, to cross for a try.
McMaster failed to convert both of those tries, but he was on target for the next try by Callum Patterson, who charged down a poor clearance and won the race for the touchdown, bringing the score to 23-10 in favour of a Ballymena team that by this time had the measure of a static Dolphin side. Another great counter attack off a poor Dolphin 22 metre kick off by McBurney put Patterson in for his second try of the game, and McMaster’s conversion established a 30-10 lead, which a tiring Dolphin side was never going to challenge.
Their resistance appeared to have folded completely when McBurney, who caused them problems all day, fielded a loose clearance and shimmied his way through a bewildered defence for Ballymena’s fifth try.
This was a great performance, to travel to Cork and win with a bonus point, after falling behind to the home side.
The only try conceded was a penalty try when Ballymena were reduced to thirteen men, again demonstrating the tenacity of their defence.
But it was the pace and skill of the whole team that eventually determined this result, which puts them level on points at the top of Division 1B, and second to Old Wesley on points difference.
The next game is a home fixture to Dublin University this Saturday, a game which last year produced two cracking contests.