Ballymena 1’s travelled to Naas 1’s in the AIL and won 18-14
After the shock defeat to Banbridge last week in the league Ballymena travelled to Dublin side Naas looking to get back to winning ways. Naas RFC are known as one of the hardest teams to travel to and get a result so the braid men knew that they had to raise their game. The game was played in front of a large crowd with many of the Ballymena faithful making the three hour trip and they weren’t disappointed by the display they seen.
The braid men started the stronger of the two sides with their forwards making good ground against the much bigger Naas pack. The first score of the game came on the 22nd minute when Naas 2nd row, Darragh Keily dived over the line after a prolonged period of play on the Ballymena try line. The conversion was added by kill back David Aherne, 7-0. Ballymena fought hard to back into the game and with time running out in the first half the braid men were awarded a penalty after the Naas flanker, Kearney was yellow carded for killing the ball in the ruck. Full back Tim Small dispatched his kick between the uprights, 7-3. For he remainder of the half the 14 man of Naas defended bravely to keep the attacking Ballymena men out. Half time 7-3.
Ballymena brought more intensity to the game in the second and it didn’t take long for them to get on the score board. After 11 minutes of this half Connor Smyth crossed the line after a great drive from the Ballymena forwards. Tim Small missed the the tough conversion, 7-8. With 20 minutes remaining in the game David Ohara was introduced to the game for the visitors and with this, the pace was upped again. The next score was going to be vital and it was the braid men who struck. Man of the match David Whann crossed the line after another strong drive by the men in black. Tim Small added the conversion to bring the score to 7-15. Naas retook the restart and set up a few drives of there own and when the ball was moved wide Gary Rowan found room in the corner to score. Full back David Aherne added the touchline conversion, 14-15. A few moments later Ballymena added to their score when the forwards took the ball deep into the opposition half. When the ball was fired back to David Ohara who was waiting in the pocket he swung his right boot at the ball sending it spiralling between the uprights for a drop goal, 14-18. For the remaining of the half Naas threw everything they had at the braid men but the visitors stood strong to hold onto the lead. Ballymena’s defence finally turned over a ruck and fired the ball out for the victory. Final score 14-18.
Ballymena host Bruff next week at eaton park as they look to close down city of Derry’s lead at the top of the AIL.
Team- Andrew Warwick, John Andrews, Bryan Young, David Whann, Connor Smyth, Mathew Rea, Michael Entwhistle, James Gallagher, Dave Shanahan, Glen Bailey, Darrell Montgomery, Jamie Smith, Martin Irwin, Jordon Foster, Tim Small