Welcome to Ballymena RFC @ Eaton Park – Est 1887

The U18s joined the U16s in the Ulster Provincial Play Off Final on Saturday, like the U16s the  game was a tight affair against a strongly fancied Banbridge side.  The opening exchanges were evenly matched with both teams testing each other out in the tight and out wide, but despite the good attacking intent both team’s defence held firm – Wylie, McClung, Wilson, O’Boyle and Holden for Ballymena all working tirelessly to stop Banbridge’s advances time and again.

In attack carries from Houston, Carson, Heggarty and Armstrong made marginal ground as the Braidmen tried to make inroads into the opposition defence who in turn were organised and repelled Ballymena’s advances.

Despite both teams’ best endeavours there was no score at half time and the game was very evenly poised.

The second half followed a similar pattern, two well matched teams testing each other out; for Ballymena fly half Robinson got good field position through his kicking and tireless effort from centres Mitchel and Shaw won some hard-earned metres through the middle of the park as they probed the Banbridge defensive line.  Ballymena’s back 3 of McSparren, Carmichael and Kelly competently fielded kicks to the backfield and making ground back time and again into the Banbridge half.

But it was Banbridge who broke the deadlock, an infringement in the breakdown earning them a penalty which was slotted over from 30 metres to make the score 3-0, a score which was doubled on 60 minutes as another kickable penalty bisected the posts to make the score 6-0.

Ballymena pressed again but Banbridge held firm, and with the clock going deep into overtime quick tap penalties by scrum half Thom seemed to have put Banbridge on the back foot and opened up space on the pitch, the Ballymena team advanced quickly deep into Banbridge territory with Banbridge in retreating into their 22, but as the Braidmen tried to force the play a loose ball gave Banbridge turnover possession and they ran the length of the pitch to score a try which sealed the victory for them.  Final score 13-0.

The team will be disappointed with the final result but can be proud of their league campaign, all youth teams now start their cup campaigns.