Ballymena Academy entertained last year’s Schools’ Cup Finalists, Sullivan Upper, with both teams missing a couple of regulars.
Ballymena were without Josh McNabney and captain Josh McIlroy, but welcomed David Craig and Alexander Clarke for their first starts of the season.
The blustery weather conditions meant that each team enjoyed a half with the strong wind in their backs. Ballymena Academy benefitted from the breeze in the first period, with Andrew Magrath and Michael Stronge managing the territory.
After a sustained period of pressure near the Sullivan line, Ballymena were awarded a penalty that was successfully slotted by Andrew Magrath.
Five minutes later, it was Magrath who won the race to the touchdown following a clever kick through from Angus Kernohan. Andrew’s conversion increased the lead to 10–0. Two more Magrath penalties before the interval stretched the home team’s lead to 16–0.
The second half saw Sullivan enjoy the majority of territory and possession and their strong scrum was proving to be a useful platform. Ballymena defended outstandingly for long periods, with Marcus Rea and Joe Thompson to the fore.
Sullivan turned down several opportunities to kick penalties as they searched for a try. The Ballymena team continued to defend with intensity and aggression and kept Sullivan from crossing the try line as the game finished 16-0.
Academy: Reynolds, Small, Alexander, Kernohan, Hanna, Magrath, Stronge; Forsythe, Clarke, Bill, Craig, Rea, Holmes, McKeown, Thompson Rep. Gaston, Moody