Clogher Valley RFC vs

October 19, 2014
Score: 22 - 26

Match Report

An indication of things to come came in the first minute of the game when Ballymena were awarded a scrum from a poor Clogher Valley kick off and were driven backwards by the opposition pack, which enjoyed that dominance in the scrum for most of the rest of the eighty minutes. Valley kicked the penalty into the corner, but the Ballymena defence held firm and some thunderous tackling by the two centres retrieved the position. Facing a very strong wind in the first half, Ballymena spent a lot of time defending, but on the occasions when their backs received good ball they created space and caused the opposition problems. The wind was always going to be the dominant feature of the game and ensured that Valley would spend most of the time in the Ballymena half, but it took them thirty minutes to reap the benefits of the territory advantage they enjoyed because of poor handling and a general lack of creativity in their backs. The Ballymena defence held until the thirty second minute when another powerful scrum set up a position for their left wing to cross for an unconverted try. Given the strength of the wind, Ballymena would have settled for a five point deficit at half time, but a penalty to Valley just on the stroke of half time enabled them to set up a line out drive and go over for a try, which was converted.

The twelve point lead which they held at half time didn’t seem to be enough, and when the referee awarded four penalties in the first twenty minutes of the half, Tim Small accepted the opportunities and kicked all four of them to level the score. The Ballymena backs, with Alan Smyth having a fine game in the centre, began to make their presence felt and after a long run by Rory Smith down the left touchline, the ball was recycled quickly and move wide to set up Paul Rainey for a try which he took well, evading the last two defenders and scoring to the right of the posts, which Small converted from out wide, putting his side into the lead for the first time, at 19-12. At this stage Valley were reduced to fourteen men after their No. 9 was yellow carded. That position was made even worse when their prop was dismissed for tem minutes. Ballymena’s second try of the day came after a scrum which was again disrupted by the Cloger Valley pack, but the back row of Miller, Dominic Gallager and O’Ryan tidied it up and got the ball clear. The ball was kicked ahead and it was Paul Rainey who proved the fastest, outpacing the opposition backs to gather the ball and crash over for e try between the posts, Tim Small again converting. With nine minutes left that fourteen point lead seem secure enough, but Valley, now restored to fifteen players, fought back and scored two late tries, one of them in the fifth minute of time added on. The wind made the conversions virtually impossible, and Ballymena avenged a last minute defeat in the semi-final of the Towns’ Cup last season to progress to the quarter finals of the Junior Cup. The small contingent of travelling Ballymena officials nominated Dominic Gallagher as their ‘Man of the Match’.