Ballynahinch IV 47 Ballyclare II 7.
Ballynahinch IV hosted a Ballyclare II team on Saturday who had defeated them earlier this season in the reverse fixture writes James Scott.
There were a number of positional changes for the home side and which resulted in an erratic first ten minutes when possession changed regularly. They soon settled into the game though and were able to retain the ball for longer periods.
The Ballymacarn men showed great enterprise and both forwards and backs were making ground when carrying, only to concede possession with some loose passing when in the opposition half.
The Hinch were looking stronger but needed to display greater patience in their play. Ballyclare conceded a penalty which was an early sign of their lack of discipline throughout the game. Out half Gillespie found touch deep in the opposition 22.
Ballyclare stole the ball from the resulting lineout but aggressive tackling from Ballynahinch forced a knock on and granted the home side a scrum ten metres out from the line. Ballyclare couldn’t handle the power of the Hinch drive with number eight Gill carefully controlling the ball before diving across the line for the first score which Gillespie converted.
Ballynahinch dealt with the kick off efficiently with McCavera comfortable under the high ball all day. Many strong carries from Hinch took them into the opposition half again. Consistent work around the rucks from props Glenn and Samuels meant Ballyclare had to commit increasing numbers to the breakdown and this created space for scrum half Douglas to exploit, linking with wing Nugent to stretch the defence further.
It looked to be on for a score if the ball was moved across the backline but Gillespie took it to the line and shrugged off a tackle to make space for himself to score under the posts which he again converted.
Hinch were playing the fast off-loading rugby that they have displayed in recent weeks and the players were eager to get their hands on the ball. Ballyclare though were still in the game and ready to pick up on any mistakes.
They had periods of possession but a resolute Hinch defence forced them into kicking much of their possession into the hands of the Hinch back three. A penalty for Hinch took play into the opposition 22 and the lineout that had faltered earlier was slick this time as Steele found Morton and a maul was set up.
Ballyclare attempted to stop the maul illegally but the referee was happy to play the advantage and Hinch rolled on to within five metres. A number of carries after the ball broke from the maul left Gill just enough space to power over in the corner for his second which Gillespie converted from the touchline leaving the score at half time 21 – 0.
Hinch expected Ballyclare to come out strongly in the second half and they did, putting pressure on every attack and testing the home defence when they had the ball. However the fourth try was scored when Hinch turned over possession on half way, Gillespie saw space and found Stevenson in the wide channels who in turn fed wing Orr who had to beat his man on the run in for his score.
Having secured the try bonus point the home side’s concentration lapsed briefly and Ballyclare showed the threat that they still posed when the scored from broken play off a quickly taken lineout. Ballyclare broke free again, making it to within five metres of the Hinch line only for an excellent covering tackle from Jones to deny them.
That wouldn’t be repeated and Ballynahinch continued to dominate possession with the centre partners linking up to great effect, splitting the defence to put McAuley through for the score which Gillespie converted. Ballyclare’s discipline didn’t improve and they paid the price with a player given ten minutes rest after two cynical fouls in quick succession, first on wing McMullan as he attempted to gather his own kick through when appearing to have a clear run in and then on Turner as he attempted to make a break for the line himself from the first penalty.
This didn’t help their cause having also lost a player through injury. Play was breaking up and this suited the home team that was full of powerful runners with Jones making a break before passing to Orr whose great footwork beat the defender and he crossed for his second try.
Much of the reminder of the game was spent in the opposition half and the home side were dominant playing back towards the clubhouse. The scoring was rounded off when the tireless McKelvey broke the defensive line to score after great phase play in the build up from the pack organised by Douglas. Gillespie added the extras to finish a strong display from the team who now prepare for their Crawford Cup semi-final against more familiar opponents in Ballynahinch V next Saturday.
Ballynahinch: A Glenn, D Steele, A Samuels, K Morton, T McCavera, J Turner, R McKelvey, G Gill, M Douglas, J Gillespie, J McMullan, K McAuley, N Jones, J Nugent, J Scott. Reps: C Stevenson, C Orr.