Ballymena took a step closer to safety in AIL division 2A on Saturday with a dominant win over Cashel RFC. Having never previously beaten their Tipperary opponents, Andy Hughes’s young side showed a gritty determination to get the job done.
The home side had the better of the early exchanges, spending the majority of the first quarter in the Cashel half. However, some handling errors and resolute defence held Ballymena from scoring.
Rhys Ervine broke the deadlock after a typical Rodger McBurney break. McBurney sliced through the Cashel defence before putting Ervine over for the score. Ross McKay converted to give Ballymena a 7-0 lead.
Cashel were quick to respond. Some indiscipline from Ballymena allowed Cashel to put the ball into the corner from a penalty. From the resulting lineout, a well organised maul overpowered the home defence, Seanie O’Connell was credited with the try and the visiting out half Aiden McDonald converted to level up the scores.
A yellow card for Cashel Number 8 Mikey Wilson changed the 1st half in Ballymena’s favour.
While in the ‘sin bin’ Ballymena put their numerical advantage to good use. Tries from the ever consistent pair of Adam Lamont and Callum Patterson put some space between the two teams. McKay added a conversion for a 19-7 lead, going into the last quarter.
Lamont, who started the game as front row cover on the bench and came on ten minutes in, secured the win and bonus point try with an individual effort. Taking the ball from scrum half Robson, Lamont showed some neat footwork and strength from outside the 22, brushing off some would be defenders to score under the posts. McKay added the conversion for a 26-7 lead.
Ballymena showed some complacency with the game appearing to be all but theirs. Cashel scored two late tries to secure their own losing bonus point, taking some of the gloss off an impressive win, final score 26-19 to the blacks.
With three wins in their last 4 games, Ballymena now lie in sixth position going into their last 4 games. Next up is a difficult away trip to third place Nenagh Ormond this coming Saturday.
Tries: Ervine, Lamont 2, Patterson
Conv: McKay 3
Mark, Taggart, McWhirter, J Browne, P Browne, McKeeman, Glass, Howe, Robson, McKay, Henry, Patterson, Ervine, D Millar, McBurney
Lamont, Mawhinney, Riley, Thompson, McGuckian