Rainey Old Boys vs Ballymena

March 22, 2014
Score: 14 - 43

Match Report

The pre-match nerves about what Rainey might offer to thwart Ballymena’s promotion surge turned out to be completely unnecessary, because after a promising opening ten minutes in which they enjoyed a near monopoly of the ball, Rainey subsequently sank without trace in a storm of Ballymena tries. The Ballymena back line, with Glenn Baillie getting things moving, carved out a number of chances, but they had to wait until the sixteenth minute for the first try of the game, when Dave Shanahan, who played well throughout, nipped over for a try which was not converted to give Ballymena a 5-0 lead. The lead was increased when Rainey, who seemed content to kick away their possession, did so again and a counter attack by the Ballymena backs saw Ricky Andrew come into the movement, sell a dummy and sprint thirty metres for a try, which Shanahan converted.

The Ballymena scrum had had the edge on their opponents all day, so it came as a surprise when an attacking Ballymena scrum was shunted back and Adrian Hamilton had to scramble to retrieve the situation.  He did a lot more than retrieve it, because despite the attentions of the whole Rainey back row, he managed to fight his way over for a try, which again was not converted. That brought the score to 17-0. The first half scoring was rounded off by a long range solo effort by Marty Irwin, who broke clear in the middle of the field, not for the first time, and raced sixty metres to score. Dave Shanahan’s conversion from close range hit the bar and trickled over, to leave Ballymena 24-0 ahead at the break.

A maul and a drive brought a converted try for Rainey, but if they entertained any thoughts of a revival, they were almost immediately wiped out, when Ballymena set up a position straight from the kick off, which allowed Dave Shanahan to exploit a huge gap in the defence and score at the posts for a try which Jonny McMullan converted. The sixth try of the game came about as a result of poor handling by the Rainey backs which allowed Ricky Andrew to hack the dropped ball ahead, pick it up and run in sixty metres for his second try of the game, again converted by Jonny McMullan. Another close range, converted try by Rainey brought the score to 38-14, and the last try of the game, by Connor Smyth, just about summed up Rainey’s day, as he brushed off a number of feeble tackles to score at the posts to make the final score 43-14

A much improved performance by Ballymena, with some outstanding individual contributions. Adrian Hamilton continues to improve, getting on the score sheet again, and Dave Shanahan and Ricky Andrew both showed why they have had appearances on the Ulster senior team this season. Coach Andy Graham was a happy man after the game, but afterwards he reminded his team that the whole season may well stand or fall on what happens in Cork next weekend, when Ballymena go there to take on a good University College Cork side.