Ballymena vs Naas

September 26, 2016
Score: 15 - 8

Match Report

Naas have come up through the leagues and are playing their first seen in Division 1B, but soon showed that they were in no way overawed by their more illustrious opponents, making Ballymena fight every inch of the way for what Andy Graham called a hard fought win. Th first half largely belonged to Ballymena, who defended the early surges from Naas quite comfortably, playing some controlled possession rugby.  That paid off after ten minutes when a sustained attack, involving  most of the players, set up a position for Stephen Mulholland to plunge over from close range for a try which Mark Best converted for  a 7-0 lead. In the twenty third minute the same player kicked a penalty to increase the lead to 10-0, but on one of their rare incursions into Ballymena territory Naas were awarded a penalty which out half Peter Osborne converted from long range to reduce the lead to 10-3.

On the half hour mark John Andrew charged down a Naas 22 drop out from which Ballymena gained possession, and some slick handling eventually created the space for Mark Best to burst through for a try, which he failed to convert.  At 15-3 Ballymena looked quite comfortable, and that is how the teams changed ends at half time.

As they have done in most of their games, Ballymena completely dominated their opponents in the scrums, and with the Naas lineout starting to fall apart, it looked as if Ballymena should go ahead and stamp their authority on the game and stretch their lead. But a Naas revival began to put pressure on the home side, and when a missed tackle in mid field allowed Johne Murphy to make a fifty metre break, leading to a Higgins try, the 15-8 lead began to look less than secure.

But with nine minutes left on the clock Higgins was involved in a collision with a Ballymena player and sustained a leg injury which stopped play for forty minutes while he was attended to. The players left the field while that was happening but returned to play out the remaining nine minutes. For that short period Ballymena exerted an iron grip on the game and all the efforts of Naas to break out were nullified by a determined defence.

The two wins in the AlL leave Ballymena third in Division 1B, on the same number of league points as the second placed Old Wesley.