Ballymena Under 18s played their way into the Provincial League Play Off Final on Saturday.
They overcame a Virginia side who had made the long journey to Eaton Park from Co Cavan.
The U18s overcame a Virginia side who had made the long journey to Eaton Park from Co Cavan. The home team got off to a flying start, fly half Ben Robinson anticipating a pass and getting in the right place to intercept the ball and run from his own half ,outpacing the pursuing defenders, to score under the posts on 3 minutes, he converted his own try to make the score 7-0.
For the next 20 minutes both teams fought for possession and territory as the game became fractured. Virginia’s large pack carried time and again and were stopped by a steadfast Ballymena defence. In attack, strong carries by Heggarty, Wylie and Holden saw the home side repelled time and again by Virginia. Both sides showed ambition wide too with the backs testing out their opponents in the wide channels, Carmichael, Mitchel and McSparren all working hard to find space.
The next score went again to the home team, captain Craig Houston breaking through the defensive line and making good yardage before setting up a ruck and slick ands and offloading set up a scoring opportunity for winger Daniel Kelly on 30 minutes.
On the stroke of half time Virginia struck back with a try to make the score 14-5 at the break.
The first part of the second half was a tense affair, the referee penalising the home side time and again, making it hard to let the game flow and it was Virginia who scored first from a series of pick and goes which were repelled several times as Shaw, McClung, Heggarty, Wilson all worked tirelessly on the line until the visitors finally scored.
The game was now evenly poised at 14-10 with the visitors in the ascendancy, however home nerves were settled when Timmy Carson rumbled over the whitewash following a line out maul to make the score 19-10 on 60 minutes.
From here the home side took control of the game, the next score came from a rampaging break as flanker Heggarty linked up with Robinson then to Max Mitchel who scored to secure the win for Ballymena on 65 minutes.
The final score was added by Stuart Holden at the final whistle as he took advantage of a tiring defence, punching a hole through their line to run in from 10 metres.
Ballymena U18s will now play Banbridge in the League Play Off Final to defend the title they won last year. The U16s will play Rainey.
Ballymena U18s will now play Banbridge in the League Play Off Final to defend the title they won last year at Meadowbank Arena on 18th February.