Ballymena vs

September 2, 2014
Score: 38 - 42

Match Report

In a fast, open game littered with early season mistakes, Ballymena were unable to contain a Hawick second half revival and lost by 38 points to 42. The first half was dominated by the home pack, with Ian Caldwell and Conor Smyth in rampant form, and the scrum proving too strong for Hawick, so Ballymena went into the half time break with a 26-10 lead. The game had started badly for the home side, which made a mess of the Hawick kick off, and surrendered possession to the visitors who countered and scored an unconverted try with only two minutes on the clock. The rest of the half belonged mostly to Ballymena, who fought back with four tries, three of them converted by Richie McMaster, who was the architect of the first try, putting a cross kick virtually  into the arms of Johnny McMullan, who caught it and fell across the line for the first of his two tries. The second try by Smyth was the result of sustained pressure by the home side, and McMullan’s second try came when he intercepted a loose Hawick pass and ran fifty yards to score. A break by scrum half Baillie led to Ballymena’s fourth try, so with three McMaster conversion, the score at that point stood at 26-5. A Hawick attack, which seemed certain to result in a score was halted by a deliberate knock on by McMullan, who duly received a yellow card. From the resulting line out, Hawick’s backs exposed a porous Ballymena defence and right on the half time whistle the winger crossed for a try. Half time 26-10. Changes to the team at half time and a pronounced stepping up a gear by the visitors saw the game swing their way. and Hawick were rewarded when a long pass by McMaster was intercepted for another unconverted try to bring them back to 26-15.  Ballymena appeared to have righted the ship when Chris Smyth barged over for a try, which McMaster again converted, to make the score 33-15. That was as good as it got for most of that half, and loose kicking on more than one occasion, let the Hawick backs counter attack, who ran in four tries, converting one, and kicked a penalty. At that stage Ballymena were eleven points adrift, but with seven minutes to go Jordan Foster made a great mid field break for a try, again converted by McMaster to reduce the Hawick lead to four points at 42-38, but the last ditch efforts to save the game proved fruitless. On balance, the better team, with  talented back line, won, but Ballymena must rue the loose kicking and occasional poor tackling which cost them so many points.