Welcome to Ballymena RFC @ Eaton Park – Est 1887

It was so close but yet so far for Ballymena, as they crashed out of the Ulster Senior Cup 24-29 to Queen’s University on Saturday.

In a pulsating semi-final, both sides attempted to play rugby and supporters from both sides were well entertained before Queen’s finally won the game in the closing stages.
The home side will have been disappointed to have lost this one as the scrum and line-out functioned well for long periods of the game, and the backline showed a threat that had been lacking at certain stages of the season.
But once again mistakes and errors were the home side’s downfall.
And it was Ballymena – who had lost to Queen’s heavily in recent fixtures – who got off to a flying start as hooker Andrew Ferguson touched down to give his side a 5-0 lead. Veteran Ferguson has been in good form this season and took the score well.
Ross McKay added the conversion; the home side was 7-0 to the good.
The students struck back shortly afterwards as the impressive Lorcan McLoughlin at number eight crashed over. The conversion was missed, and Ballymena still held the lead at 7-5.
More pressure from the home side resulted in McKay adding a penalty for the home side to make it 10-5. McKay has developed this season, and the experience of having a season under his belt will stand him in good stead for next season. There is more to come from the number 10.
The first half ended with Ballymena holding their 10-5 lead, but there was more to come in the second half.
Queen’s started the second half brightly and made it 10 points apiece as they grabbed an unconverted try after a spell of pressure.
The visitors then went 17-10 ahead as winger Michael Orr showed good pace to score after a kick ahead following a mix-up in the Ballymena midfield.
Stuart Martin converted to give his side the lead for the first time in the encounter.
The home side, however, was not finished as centre Pierce Crowe raced in from range to give his side the lead again. Crowe shows signs of quality, so it’s good to have him back after a short spell away from the club.
McKay – who was in form with the boot – added the extras to leave the score 17-17.
Ballymena then suffered a blow as second-row Paddy Browne was yellow-carded for foul play.
Even down to 14 men, Ballymena went ahead again as the impressive James McNabney scored after a strong carry. McNabney has a big future ahead of him after an impressive Six Nations campaign for an Ireland underage team.
However, Queen’s were not to be outdone and took the lead after grabbing two well-executed tries to take the lead at 24-29.
Ballymena had an opportunity to claim the win at the death, but the lineout which had been functioning well was lost and Queen’s held on to make the final, where they will face Ballynahinch.
Ballymena: Thompson, Ervine, Crowe, Patterson, Henry, McKay, Robson, Mark, Ferguson, Mawhinney, P Browne, J Browne, Howe, McKeeman, McNabney.
Subs: Lamont, McWhirter, Dick, Baillie.
Queens: Telfer, Orr, Johnston, Power, Martin, Hunter, Wright, Boal, Long, Wilson, Whitten, McCay, Heasley, Pollock, McLaughlin.
Subs: Clarke, Carville, McAlpine, McMaster, Patterson.