Final score 31-10 and this was a perfect way to sign off an excellent league campaign. Now all eyes turn to the Town’s Cup quarter final vs Ballyclare 1st VX. KO is 2.30pm at Eaton Park on Saturday 25th February. All support very welcome!
Having been crowned champions in the previous week vs Armagh, Ballymena could have been forgiven for taking their eye off the ball in their final league match vs Banbridge. However the home side put in an excellent performance to win 31 – 10.
Coaches Gareth Fisher and Mikey Stevenson, whilst choosing to rest a few sore bodies for the game next week in the Town’s Cup, selected a strong side – showing the depth of this Ballymena squad.
The tone was set by Jack Alexander, starting at number 8 as just reward for some excellent performances off the bench in recent weeks, as he made a thunderous carry off the opening kick off. Soon after, Curtis Henry broke through the Banbridge line and offloaded to James McClean for the opening score. Full back Joe O’Rawe converted for a 7 – 0 lead.
The Ballymena supporters didnt have to wait long for their second try. Banbridge were struggling to contain the physical Ballymena pack and captain Peter Wallace ran over his opposite number to break deep into the Banbridge half. McClean was on hand again for the offload but as he looked to score his second of the day he was tackled just short. However McClean was able to offload to dangerous winger Kane McIlroy who showed good pace to score Ballymena’s 2nd try. Again O’Rawe converted for a 14-0 lead.
McClean did get his second try a few moments later. Out half Sam Millar expertly pinned Banbridge back in their 22 and after giving Ballymena possession again, Ballymena stretched their lead to 19-0.
Banbridge did hit back with a score of their own before half time. Half time score 19-5
At half time Ballymena were able to welcome Mark Thompson back from a long injury lay off. Thompson looked dangerous in attack and was thunderous in defence and this is a welcome boost for Ballymena for the remainder of the season.
Ballymena again started on the front foot. They drove Banbridge back into their own 22 and the pressure told with captain Wallace powering over, leaving 4 defenders in his wake. O’Rawe converted for a 26-5 lead.
Conditions worsened mid way through the second half as the wind and the rain made opportunities for running rugby very limited. Banbridge pushed Ballymena back into their own half and after a series of penalties, they kicked to the corner and scored a maul try. 26-10.
Ballymena then used their superior pack to control the remainder of the half and added a late score through Jack Alexander, after some excellent work by both Adam Mitchell and Lewis McClinton.