In what was a very entertaining tussle, Ballymena seemed to have the stronger line-up and they established early control of the scoreboard with a converted try from industrious number 8 Stephen Mulholland.
Chris Quinn and the fit-again Ritchie McMaster swapped penalties and they did likewise in the second quarter, after Ballymena winger James Beattie had broken through for a try.
‘Hinch, who were also beaten at home by UCC in the last round, responded as half-time approached, scrum half Chris Gibson breaking from the back of the set piece and setting up winger Davy Nicholson for a try out wide.
20-11 at the interval turned into 25-11 when Jordan Foster joined his wing colleague Beattie on the scoresheet. But Andy Graham’s men had to ride out a tricky period, yellow cards for McMaster and hooker John Andrew putting them under serious pressure with ‘Hinch forcing a penalty try, converted by Quinn.
The margin now down to 25-18, McMaster returned from his spell off for a high tackle and slotted over what proved to be the match-winning penalty in the 66th minute. There was no quarter asked or given in a bruising climax, but Ballymena held on to take home four valuable points and give themselves a boost ahead of next week’s visit of table toppers Buccaneers.