Ballymena 1st XV hosted Queens 1st XV in the Ulster league and won 46-44
Ballymena started slowly in this opening game of the season and it wasn’t long before Queens opened the scoring with a penalty in front of the posts, 0-3. Two minutes later it got worse for Ballymena as scrum half Glen Bailey got yellow carded for side entry into a ruck. The resulting penalty was dispatched between the posts, 0-6. Queens made their extra man count when they put pressure on the braid men’s defensive line after 13 minutes of play resulting in a converted try for the visitors, 0-13.
Back to full strength Ballymena went on the attack and after several phases back rower Mathew Rea scored with a push over try. Rory Drysdale kicked the extra points, 7-13. After the restart Queens added to their points when their winger scored out wide. Queens fly half failed to add the conversion, 7-18.
The braid men were struggling to to get a foot hold on the game and with 27 minutes on the clock went further behind when soft tackling allowed Queens to score another converted try. At 7-25 down it looked as if it was going to be one of those days for Ballymena.
From the restart Ballymena was awarded a penalty in the Queens half. Rory Drysdale added the points to bring the score to 10-25. Ballymena started to grow in belief and strength. After several phases of attack from the braid men, summer signing Michael Entwhistle crossed the chalk line. Rory Drysdale made no mistake with the conversion, 17-25.
Queens finished the first half the strongest and with only minutes left of the first half found space to score out wide. The conversion was missed bringing the half time score to 17-30.
Ballymena started the second half strongly and their hard work and determination soon paid off when they reduced the gap through a well worked try.
55 minutes into the game Ballymena reduced the points deficit to 1 when scrum half Glen Bailie raced under the posts to score. Rory Drysdale added the extras, 29-30.
The momentum was now with Ballymena and it wasn’t long before they took the lead for the first time in this match. This time it was fullback John Nichol who scored for the home team and the in form Rory Drysdale added the conversion bringing the score to 36-30. Soon after the restart Ballymena were awarded a penalty. Rory Drysdale extended the braid men’s lead to 39-30.
With 15 minutes left on the clock Queens got back on the scoreboard with a converted try, 39-37. The game was entering a period that could have went either way with both teams playing an exciting open attacking game. It was Ballymena who drew first blood in the last 10 minutes when Mathew Rea sucked in the defender after a line out before popping the ball to prop Jarrad Bowes who ran in to score his first try for the senior side. Rory Drysdale again slotted the conversion between the post, 46-37.
Queens weren’t for giving up that easily and rallied from the restart and with minutes left on the clock found a gap in the Ballymena defence to score. The Outhalf added the conversion, 46-44. The game ended when Ballymena were awarded a penalty but unfortunately Callum Patterson was unable to add to the score board. The game finished 46-44 and all the supporters had just witnessed the braid men win a high scoring open game. A great start to the new season and a lot more hopefully to come from a strong, exciting looking side.
Next week the braid men will travel to City of Derry which will be a very tough UCL encounter.
Team- Adrian Kirkpatrick, James Taggart, George Hargy, Mark Foster, David Whann, Connor Smyth, Shay McIntosh, Mathew Rea, David O’Harra, Rory Drysdale, Callum Patterson, Darrell Montgomery, Alan Smyth, John Nichol, subs Andrew Ferguson, Jarrod Bowes, Michael Entwhistle, Mike McKeever, Jordan Foster
no images were found