Ballynahinch 2’s 36 Lisburn 3
John Dickson reports from Ballymacarn Park
The recent heavy rain and wind had abated by Saturday afternoon leaving a sticky yet playable Ballymacarn Park to greet the Ballynahinch 2’s side as they faced Lisburn in the first round of this seasons Powerade Ulster Towns Cup.
It was a bitterly cold afternoon as the match kicked off with the Junior Cup Champions playing towards Slieve Croob in the first half. Having lost to a Qualifying 2 side in the early stages of this competition last season, the Hinch were adamant that outcome would not be repeated this year.
The home side made a solid start with strong runs from number 8 Zack McCall and hooker Conor Piper driving play forward and half-backs Peter Weir and James McBriar making good ground into the Lisburn half.
Hinch opened the scoring in the 9th minute when good continuity play created space for winger Jordan Graham to make good ground up the left wing and he did well to put the supporting Michael Carson clear to battle his way over at the cornerflag for the first try. James McBriar failed to convert from the touchline leaving the Hinch 5-0 in front.
The cold conditions and the sticky pitch made handing difficult for both sides but the Hinch were guilty of squandering a couple of clear scoring chances with accuracy in the final phases letting the side down. David Nicholson, Sam Hanna and Josh Donaldson all made notable carries but it wasn’t until the 20th minute that the Lisburn defence was breached again. The attack began on halfway with a great run from centre David Nicholson who raced clear into the Lisburn 22 and drew fullback Scott Hughes, putting Michael Carson clear for his second try. McBriar was wide with the conversion attempt to leave the Hinch 10 points clear after the first quarter.
Lisburn competed well in the scrum and caused the Hinch side problems on their own ball. The lineouts were also scrappy with neither side gaining much of an advantage.
Hinch scored their third try in the 38th minute and it was worth the wait. It started on halfway with a great break by winger Owen Jarvie who stepped his way past a number of tackles and into space. As the Lisburn defence closed he passed inside to hooker Conor Piper at pace as he cut a great line through a gap on the 22 and sprinted clear to dive over just left of the posts. McBriar added the extras to take the Hinch 17 points clear.
The half ended on a sour note for the home side as Chris Stevenson was yellow carded for a high tackle in front of the Hinch posts, Matt Graham converting the penalty for the visitors to take them into the interval trailing 17-3.
Despite being reduced to 14 men the Hinch made a strong start to the second half. With just 3 minutes played Zack McCall led the charge with a storming run into the Lisburn 22. Conor Piper and Sam Hanna continued the attack then McBriar found Carson on his left and he sent the fullback clear to score his hatrick in the 43rd minute. McBriar failed to convert leaving the Hinch 22-3 clear.
Lisburn to their credit never gave up and continued to battle for every ball. It took a big effort from the Hinch pack in particular the backrow of McCall, Donaldson and Hanna as they continued to turnover the ball at the breakdown. These efforts were complimented with strong running from the front row men Chris Stevenson, Toby Mannus and the impressive Conor Piper.
The fifth Hinch try was another great play, which came in the 66th minute. Winger Jordan Graham started the attack down the left wing with Stevenson and Piper taking play into the Lisburn 22. Weir moved the quick ball wide where number 8 Zack McCall smashed his way through a gap on the 22 and raced clear to dive in under the posts. McBriar added the extras to take Hinch 29-3 clear.
The final Hinch try came in the 73rd minute when strong running from the Hinch backs created an overlap, but center Davy Harris stepped inside the Lisburn defence to fend off one player before outpacing another, then diving over right of the posts. McBriar added the extras to take Hinch 36-3 clear.
In the final minutes Hinch should have bagged a seventh try but McBriar failed to deliver the pass with a clear two-man overlap, and the game finished with the Hinch deserving their place in the round 2 draw winning by 36 points to 3 points.
Having watched the 2’s on a number of occasions this season I have been impressed with their style of play and general work ethic. Credit must go to coach Chris Parker along with Derek Suffern and Charlie McAleese.
There are a number of young players on this team who are putting their hands up for senior selection. Zack McCall and Conor Piper have been stand out players in the pack, both have great engines and give 100% throughout a game. On the ball they are dynamic in attack and very competitive in defence.
In the backs centre David Nicholson, wingers Jordan Graham, Owen Jarvie and fullback Michael Carson have all impressed. The Hinch 2’s are a great side to watch, they entertain with strong attacking rugby and play well as a team. The Towns Cup is their next target and I would encourage you to give them your support in the weeks ahead as they bid to win the coveted cup double.
After the game coach Chris Parker said “This wasn’t a typical performance from the 2nd XV and they know they must be more accurate and clinical when they get opportunities in the opposition half, they did however show superb defence and they will look forward to the draw for the next round of the competition.”
Next week the team return to league action as they travel to Banbridge, with the 1st XV having no game all support would be appreciated as the side aim to continue at the top of the 2nd XV league.
Team: 15 Michael Carson, 14 Owen Jarvie, 13 David Nicholson, 12 Davy Harris, 11 Jordan Graham, 10 James McBriar ©, 9 Peter Weir, 9 Zack McCall, 7 Josh Donaldson, 6 Sam Hanna, 5 Jordan McMullen, 4 Andy Simpson, 3 Chris Stevenson, 2 Conor Piper, 1 Brian. Mannus