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Ballynahinch vs Old Wesley

Ulster Bank League Division 1B

Ballynahinch 27 Old Wesley 6

Saturday 23 September 2017

(By James Kirk at Ballymacarn Park)

Ballynahinch welcomed Old Wesley to Ballymacarn Park on Saturday still smarting from their failure to put away Old Belvedere the week before. There were a couple of changes to the Hinch backline with Johnny McPhillips coming in at fly-half and veteran Stuart Morrow returning to outside centre. Hinch played away from the clubhouse into a very strong wind in the first half and ball retention would be crucial in order to retain any field position.

Wesley started strongly and asked some early questions of the Hinch defence. However, they failed to use the wind and attempted too many ambitious moves which were disrupted by the strong wind and tenacious defence.

One long pass was expertly read by McPhillips who intercepted inside his own half and showed good pace and awareness of where the covering defence was to score in the 13th minute.  He converted it impressively for 7-0 lead.

The vistiors fought back and were rewarded for another spell of pressure with a penalty at the breakdown to take the score to 7-3. This was followed by a great spell from the hosts. An excellent Aaron Cairns break led to a sustained attack which came undone after another breakdown offence.

Undeterred Hinch extended their lead after 30 minutes with an outstanding team try. Flanker Olly Loughead picked off a wayward Wesley lineout and charged over halfway. Pete Browne and Stuart Morrow were heavily involved with some punishing carrying and after a multi-phase attack the ball was moved wide and Zac Ward’s intelligently delayed pass put full-back Connor Kelly in close to the posts. McPhillips converted to make it 14-3.

Hinch had to weather another spell of attacking from Old Wesley before half-time and gave away two penalties in quick succession for breakdown offences, the second of which resulted in a warning from the referee and three points for Old Wesley to make it 14-6 at halftime. Hinch turned around with an eight point lead and a strong wind at their back in the second half.

McPhillips used his boot to dictate play early in the second half and Wesley struggled to get out of their own half. He knocked over a penalty to make it 17-6 and Hinch all but sealed the game with a Richard Reaney try in the corner following a pinpoint long pass from the impressive Kelly.

The conversion was missed for a scoreline of 22-6 with approaching 60 minutes gone. Ballynahinch emptied the bench with fresh legs in search of a bonus point try with Cinnamond, McKittrick and Hall entering the fray in the pack and Blane McIlroy back from injury at scrun-half.

The game went a little flat with Hinch content to soak up Old Wesley possession around the halfway line. Wesley had plenty of the ball but could not find any decent field position until the last ten minutes when Hinch were a man down following the sinbinning of Callum McLaughlin, on for Morrow.

Resolute Hinch defence kept Wesley out though, and when they were awarded a last minute penalty on their own line it allowed them to roll the dice. Excellent carrying from the forwards took them upfield and when the ball was swung left Aaron Cairns ran in from his own ten metre line for a sensational try to seal a 5 point haul and move Hinch up the table.

Final score at Ballymacarn Park: Ballynahinch 27 Old Wesley 6

Lineups

Ballynahinch:  Campbell Classon, Zack McCall, Jonny Simpson, John Donnan, Pete Browne, Jack Regan, Olly Loughead, Zac Ward, Aaron Cairns (Capt), Jonny McPhillips, David Busby, Tom Rock, Stuart Morrow, Richard Reaney, Conor Kelly.

Replacements: Graham McKittrick, Zac Cinnamond, Aaron Hall, Blane McIlroy, Callum McLaughlin

Old Wesley: Cronan Gleeson, Conor Maguire, James Burton, Mark Robinson, Josh Hinde, Darren Horan (Capt), Matthew Bursey, Josh Pim, Adam Kennedy, Josh Miller, Richie Jermyn, Cillian Monaghan, Vaa Meillia, Eoghan O’Reilly, Rory Stynes.

Replacements: Craig Telford, Ryan Healy, Johnny O’Sullivan, Kieran Murphy, Jack Maybury.