Toon progress in Cup
J Hanna reporting
The JKC BMW sponsored Ballymoney Rugby Club 1st XV took to cup action this week as they travelled to neighbours Limavady 1st XV in the 2nd round of the Junior Cup. In a very entertaining game Ballymoney ran out eventual winners 36-17 to progress to the quarter finals.
After a week of windy and wet weather the conditions on Saturday were excellent for rugby. Ballymoney had a few changes to the team from the conference league win last week over Omagh 2s. Kenny McAneaney and Andy Brown were unavailable for this week through injury and work commitments. Matthew Blair
and Peter Irvine
started as props and Adam Pollock
who had put in some good performances in the back row moved to hooker. The second row seen the partnership of James Bleakly
and Michael Allan
renewed and John McFetridge
was able to shake of his knee injury to start in the back row.
In the backs coaches Martin Irwin
and James Cleland
returned and Aaron Brown
made his first competitive 1st XV start of the season after he had impressed for the 2nd XV.
The changes may have caused Ballymoney to be slow at the start but they also meet a very determined Limavady team who moved the ball well at pace through backs and forwards. Limavady worked their way up the pitch from half way keeping the ball and the options off 10 were causing Ballymoney problems as they were slow to react to the home sides style of play. The waves of Limavady attack were rewarded when they picked and drove over from a ruck on the try line to score below the posts for a converted try to open the scoring at 7-0
This seemed to waken Ballymoney up and they knew they were going to be in a face paced game. It was Ballymoney who were next to get on the score sheet when a break in midfield was recycled and back row John McFetridge
combined to off load to number 8 Daniel Ramage
for him to sprint in for a score just right of the posts. James Cleland
was successful with the kick to draw the game at 7-7 with 10 minutes played.
Cleland was just wide from a penalty kick on the 10m line but the team’s second try came shortly after and this time after a number of phases of play by the forwards Captain John McFetridge
powered over the line to score and continue his rich try scoring form this season. Cleland knocked over the conversion to give Ballymoney a 7-14 lead.
The rest of the half was played out between the 22m line at a great pace but both sides struggled to break down each other defences or they gave the ball away to easily.
The first team to score in the second half would be important and within the first 5 minutes it looked as if it was going to be Ballymoney when Ramage made a great break just inside the Limavady half and raced clear for the corner only for the Limavady winger to race back for a great cover tackle on the line. However this only prevented the try for a few minutes as pressure from the break saw Ballymoney attack the line. They were awarded a penalty 5 metres out and quick thinking from front row Ian Moxen
seen him take a quick tap and crash over beside the posts. Again James Cleland
added the 2 points to give Ballymoney a 7-21 lead.
Cleland added a long range penalty shortly after to give Ballymoney some breathing space at 7-24. Limavady continued to keep the tempo of the game high and probed the Ballyomey defence. Their blind side winger who had been quiet in the first half was now enjoying some freedom and his hard running was creating problems. From a ball off the scrum half the same winger broke clear only for James Cleland
to put in a covering try saving tackle. Their try did come shortly after when again some good work by their backs stretched Ballymoney defence and an off load saw the Limavady centre crash over out wide. The conversation went wide but Limavady were in the game again at 12-21.
Ballymoney put some distance between the 2 teams with 15mintues remaining when another break by Thomas Hunter
saw the young centre break a cover tackle to race and score below the posts. James Cleland
converted to extend the lead again to 12-29.
As the game was running to a close Limavady got some rewards for their determination as quick ball allowed them to break down the blind side and expose some poor Ballymoney defence at the end of the game to score a well worked try with 2 minutes to go. The conversion was missed so Ballymoney kicked off with the score 17-29.
Ballymoney wanted to finish the game strong and that they did when they won the ball back from the kick off second row James Bleakly
made another great break who found Captain John McFetridge
on his shoulder. John McFetridge
showed some good skill as an outrageous dummy saw him ghost through a gap and put scrum half Matthew Steele
free. When it looked as if the he was going to score, another cover tackle prevented the try but with numbers light in defence Michael Allan
was quick to react and pick and dive over for the final score. Cleland once again was successful to end the scoring 17-36.
Maine Gym Man of the Match: David McKeeman
1st XV Squad: P. Irvine, A, Pollock, M. Blair, J. Bleakly, M. Allan, J. McFetridge (c), D. McKeeman, D. Ramage, M. Steele, R. Strang, M. Bell, M. Irwin, T. Hunter, A. Brown, J. Cleland, I. Moxen, C. Watson.
Coaches Comments: After the game coach Jonny Hanna commented; “it was a great game for the neutral today as the weather allowed both teams to play at high pace and move the ball wide. I think we might have got caught up in the spirit of the cup too much as we forced play and were too loose in contact. This gave Limavady the ball easy and gave them procession to score their tries. We are back to league action next week in an important game against Randalstown. Survival is still our aim and we will continue to take it one game at a time. After Randalstown we are home to Ards and then we can look forward to the next round of the cup. Although it was good to score 5 trys we have plenty to work on at training. There were good preformances in the back row from Ramage, McKeeman and McFetridge and in the back-line Irwin and Cleland showed their experience to bring the game under control. Another big week at training will determine selection for next week as away to Randalstown will be a difficult task.