Old Crescent 25 – 17 Ballymena
More disappointment for Ballymena as they lost their sixth league match on the trot with a 25-17 defeat to Old Crescent in Division 2A of the AIL.
The result leaves the Eaton Park men in fourth place with two games remaining, so the fight is really on for a spot in the play-offs.
There were some positive things to take from the game but a misfiring lineout and some questionable refereeing decisions did not help the situation.
John Nicholl’s men took the lead at Takumi Park in the 10th minute as Adam Lamont galloped clear to open Ballymena’s account. Ross McKay added the conversion and Ballymena were 7-0 ahead.
It looked like Ballymena had crossed for their second try of the game but Pierce Crowe’s fine finish was brought back for a forward pass and the chance was gone.
Then on the half-hour mark, the home side brought themselves back into the game as Gary Fitzgerald crossed the Ballymena line. Ronan McKenna missed the conversion in the strong breeze leaving the score 7-5 in Ballymena’s favour.
Ballymena for very close to extending their lead before the break but much to the delight of the home support the first half ended 7-5.
Three minutes into the second half things were looking good for Ballymena as they extended their lead through an Andrew Ferguson try after good work by the pack. McKay missed the conversion but Ballymena was 12-5 ahead and looking good.
Six minutes later however the home side closed the gap as Val McDermott crashed over to make it 12-10 after a good phase of play.
Then in the 64th minute, Ballymena extended their lead as the imp[ressive Lamont grabbed his second try of the game. The openside has grown in stature this season and has proceeded his worth on many occasions.
Number ten McKay was again off target in the tricky conditions but Ballymena were still 17-10 ahead.
The home side were not to be denied and pulled themselves back into the game in 69 minutes as Paul McNamara crossed the line to score. The conversion was missed to leave it 17-15 to Ballymena – but a tight finish was on the cards.
Two minutes from the end Ballymena was penalised and McKenna kicked the penalty to put his side in front at 18-15.
One minute later the home side was sure of victory as McDermott scored with McKenna converting to leave the final score 25-17 to the home side for them to claim a bonus-point win.
Ballymena now travels to third-placed Buccaneers this Saturday in what is a must-win game before they are home against Queens in the last game of the season.
Team: Mark, Ferguson, Mawhinney, Browne, Campbell, McKee, Lamont, McNabney, Baillie, McKay, Millar, Crowe, Corr, Ervine, Thom[pson. Subs: Taggart, Logan, Hargy, Milton, Vance.