Ballymena vs

February 6, 2016
Score: 12 - 15

Match Report

With St Mary’s at the top of the table and Ballymena sitting in second place, this Davison 1B encounter between the two teams was always going to be close, and that is exactly how it turned out. In the first half neither side could gain any advantage, with defences always on top, and each side had periods of possession and dominance. Ballymena took an early lead with a Richie McMaster penalty, but that was a short lived advantage as Sean Kearns levelled the scores with a similar effort. For most of the first half there was nothing between the teams with Ballymena Holding a very slight edge, and that slight advantage was turned into points just before the break by another Richie McMaster penalty to give Ballymena a 6-3 half time lead, which on balance was a fair reflection of the play.

The second half began much in the same vein, both sides trying to run the ball but making little headway against well organised defences. With ten minutes gone a scrum to St Mary’s saw Andrew Ferguson being yellow carded and a penalty awarded, which out half Kearns kicked to touch. The first attempt at a driving maul resulted in yet another penalty to St Mary’s who again kicked to touch and this time they succeeded in driving Ballymena across the line for a try which Kearns failed to convert, taking the lead for the first time in the game at 8-3. Five minutes later Ballymena pressure brought a penalty which McMaster kicked to put Ballymena back in front at 9-8. He was replaced by Andrew McGrath who kicked a penalty for a fully deserved 12-8 lead.

With Ballymena calling most of the shots in the second half, it looked as if that four point lead with five minutes to go might just see them through, as St Mary’s were getting no change from the home defence. But in the third minute of injury time the referee spotted an offence in the ruck, dismissed Dominic Gallagher and awarded St Mary’s a penalty which they kicked to touch about fifteen metres out. They won the lineout and drove forward and with virtually the whole team joining in they drove Ballymena across the line.  The referee looked at the jumble of bodies and decided that they had got the touchdown and awarded a try, which St Mary’s had never looked like scoring in the second half. Kearns kicked the conversion leaving the final score at 15-12 to the visitors, a hugely disappointing outcome for a Ballymena side which in every respect matched or bettered their opponents.