Ballymena Youth Dominate in Derry 06 January 2018
Ballymena’s youth rugby teams travelled to City of Derry for what is always a challenging fixture. Under 18 coach Colin Craig was slightly apprehensive as due to a number of reasons the team travelled with only 15 players. However Colin was delighted that from the warm up the boys looked sharp and up for the game. From the start the Ballymena pack dominated and proved too strong for Derry. A strong run from loose head prop Francis saw the ball move deep into the home side’s twenty-two. A quick pass from McKay released Woulahan who drove strongly to score the first try of the game. Walker stepped up and was successful with the first of his four conversions. Derry, who had an impressive home record were no match for the hard running Braid boys. McKeown who had an excellent day, stepping in as tight head prop made a strong tackle which resulted in Derry spilling the ball. The impressive Campbell then lifted the ball and ran fully 60 metres before touching down under the posts for the first of his two tries. Walker converted and the boys were now in charge of the game. Derry did not seem to expect the physicality of the Ballymena team and a strong surge from O’Kane saw him make ground before releasing second row partner Morrison. He evaded several tackles before passing to Campbell who crossed for his second try. With half backs Ritson and McKay providing quick ball to the backs a neat kick from Ritson saw the Derry full back have little choice but to take the ball into touch. From the lineout McIlwaine found Woulahan. He realised that Derry had not competed and took advantage of their static lineout to drive straight through the middle and go over for his second try. The second half was much of the same despite Derry playing with a strong wind behind them. Good defence from Boyle saw Derry knock on and the backs exploited the turnover with Haveron running strongly before releasing Moxham who evaded several tackles before scoring in the corner. Ritson knocked over the conversion and the game as a contest was all but over. The backs were now enjoying some good possession and Walker took full advantage, with the full back running in two tries. Derry did keep attacking but another fine tackle from Kasthuriachichi saw the 18s regain possession which allowed the ball to move from the strong running Pattison to McKeown who gratefully ran in a well-deserved try. With the game coming to a close Pattison again brike free and smuggled the ball to O’Kane who crashed over for the last score of the game. Assistant Coach Tom Wiggins was delighted commenting ‘ Fifteen boys turned up and the fifteen boys did produced one of the performances of the season’.
Final Score City of Derry 0 – 57 Ballymena
Ballymena Youth Dominate in Donegal 21 October 2017
Ballymena Under 18s and Under 16s made the long journey to Carndonnagh in Donegal to face in form Innishowen. The 18s and 16s were attempting to protect their unbeaten records which sees both teams sitting at the top of their respective leagues. The 18s got off to a great start. With stand-in outhalf McKay in great form it was not long before the ball was collected by Fullerton. He was halted just short of the line. A quick ball from Scullion saw the ball moved to Harpur who crossed for the first of his three tries. Innishowen having been stunned by Ballymena’s start then hit back with some strong forward play. However some strong tackling from back rows Scott and Houston kept them at bay. With Francis dominating in the scrum and the loose the Braid boys were soon on the front foot again and a slick move saw Pattison pass to Francis who crashed over for the second score of the game. McKay slotted the conversion and the 18s were now in control of the game. The 18s line outs were one of their obvious strengths and a penalty saw the boys at the half way line. Woulahan again made an excellent catch and organised the drive which saw the maul move from the half way line to the hosts twenty-two. With Innishowen committed to the maul this left room for the backs and some quick ball saw Harpur cross for his second try. The second half was more of the same. Ramsey made one of his strong runs and the 18s were again deep in Innishowen territory. O’Kane drove strongly and a neat back line move saw the ball moved to McLoughlin who passed to the hard running Moxham. He shrugged off several tackles before scoring in the corner. As the match drew to a close the maul again saw the boys walking towards the Innishowen line before McIlwaine dropped to the ground to score a well deserved try. The scoring continues with McKeown joining with replacements Kasthuriarachchi and Morrison. The ball was then moved to Harpur who completed his hat-trick. The game finished with the impressive Moxham crossing for his second try and the last score of the game. This was another excellent performance from the 18s and one that made such a long journey worthwhile.
Innishowen 0 Ballymena 37
The Under 16s were in equally good form. With the powerful Junk and McAtamney leading the pack the boys proved too strong for Innishowen in the loose and in the scrums. The 16s as in other matches dominated possession through Totten and McArtney with the strong running Robinson and Corry proving too much for the hosts. The match was never in doubt and the 16s maintained their unbeaten run with an excellent victory which keeps them at the top of the league.
Innishowen 14 Ballymena 47
Ballymena Youth Dominate in Limavady Saturday 07 October 2017
Ballymena’s youth rugby sides travelled to Limavady hoping to continue their strong start to the season. From the outset, the Under 18s took the game to their hosts with Francis and Ramsey dominating in the scrum Limavady were unable to secure ball in mid field. O’Kane made a strong run before passing to captain Pattison. Houston joined in the move before releasing scrum half McKay for his first try of the season. Limavady worked hard to get into the game but with openside flanker Scott dominating in the loose it was only a matter of time before the Braid boys were back on the front foot. Woulahan ripped a ball from a Limavady forward and released Ritson. His run saw the him take the ball deep into the opposition twenty-two before passing to McIlwaine who crashed over for the second try of the game. Ritson converted and the 18s were now firmly in control of the game. From the kick-off Fullerton collected the ball and ran hard into the Limavady half. A quick pass saw the ball moved to the impressive Moxham. The outside centre took full advantage of the disorganisation in the Limavady defence to run in the first of his five tries. As the half was coming to a close Haveron shrugged off several tackles before releasing Walker who crossed for a try under the posts. The second half proved to be a one way street with Ballymena again taking control of the contact area. Surgeoner and McAuley combined well to put the 18s deep into Limavady territory. A quick pass from Scullion saw McLoughlin combine with Boyle. His pass released Moxham who drove through a despairing tackle for a second try. It was only a matter of minutes before Morrison collected a kick and ran strongly at the defence. Kasthuriarachchi joined in and the Limavady defence was again breached allowing Moxham to score under the posts. The highlight of the morning was possible Moxham’s last try. A shrewd lick from Harpur saw the ball put behind the Limavady defence. Moxham ran through and flicked the ball forward. The ball then bounced up perfectly for the outside centre and he gratefully collected the ball before running in his last try and the final try of the game. This was a first class performance from the 18s and the challenge is now to take this fine form into the next game against City of Derry.
Final Score – Limavady 5 Ballymena 53.