Ballymena came out 40-38 victors after a topsy-turvy game away to Dolphin in Division 2A of the AIL in Cork.
The men in black had gone into an early lead before the home side fought back to take the lead near the death before substitute Shaw Fleck crashed over to win the game for Andy Hughes’ side. Forwards coach Darrell O’Kane was pleased with the victory after a couple of tough weeks.
“We have had our backs against the wall the last few weeks and not played as much rugby as we would have liked because the weather hasn’t helped, but days like today helped as we had to knuckle down. We knew our backs were to the wall as we were coming to Cork to play.
“Coming to Dolphin is never easy as they make it very difficult for you, so it is great to be heading home with five points in the bank.”
And O’Kane admitted winning on the road in Cork was vital at this stage of the season.
“We knew today that this was a very important game. It was probably the most important game we have played in recent years. It was good for the boys to come here, dig deep, and they now know they can dig deep and win games.
“Dolphin came back into the game and really came into it at the end, so it was great to see the guys put the effort in and get their rewards,” added O’Kane.
Ballymena started the game brightly and opened the scoring after a great break from Callum Patterson. The centre broke from halfway before being pulled down close to the Dolphin line. The ball was recycled, and James Howe touched down. Ross McKay converted, and Ballymena was 7-0 ahead.
They were 14-0 ahead shortly afterwards, with Pierce Crowe scoring after more good work from Patterson. McKay was again on target with the conversion, and Ballymena was 14-0 ahead and playing well.
Angus Robson then scored Ballymena’s third try of the day, which was again converted by McKay to make it 21-0 to the visitors.
If Ballymena thought they were in for an easy afternoon, they were mistaken as Dolphin roared back with a converted score of their own to leave it 21-7.
Adam Lamont then scored a lovely try to make it 28-7, and Ballymena looked home and dry.
But that was not the case, as Dolphin got back in the game as they scored to make it 12-28.
After the break, Ballymena’s Matty Dick scored a great try as he raced in from distance to score. McKay missed the conversion, but Ballymena still had a 33-12 advantage.
Then the Dolphin fightback started as they scored two tries and a penalty try to bring themselves back into the game at 31-33.
Ballymena’s day worsened shortly afterwards as Dolphin grabbed another try to make it 38-33 to the home side.
However, Ballymena scored another converted try through Fleck to leave the final score 40-38 to the visitors, and Ballymena was heading north with five very important league points.
Dolphin: Mills, Reardon, Boyle, O’Connell, Pope, Quinlan, Foley, Rochford, Scott, Jennings, O’Mahony, Fitzgerald, Barry, O’Herlihy.
Subs: Chester, Byrne, Vaughan, Foley, O’Shaughnessy.
Ballymena: J Mark, A Ferguson, J Taggart, J Howe, P Hargy, D McKeeman, A Lamont, M Dick, A Robson, R McKay, D Millar, S Millar, C Patterson, R Ervine, P Crowe.
Subs: S McWhirter, D Fullerton, S Fleck, A Mitchell, R Weerarathne.
Ref: C Roche.