Welcome to Ballymena RFC @ Eaton Park – Est 1887

Ballymena U21s played their second league game away at Banbridge last night under lights.

The Braidmen were in buoyant spirits after their maiden 2023/4 league game and home win against Instonians last week, but were prepared for a tough game against raining under 21 champions Banbridge.

The game got off to a close start with both teams testing each other out in the opening exchanges, Banbridge dominating territory but Ballymena holding fast.  Both teams took time to settle but it was Banbridge who scored first, taking advantage of a penalty in front of the posts to slot home 3 points.

From the restart Ballymena pressured their opposition, forcing errors and a penalty which Joe O’Rawe kicked into the corner for a line out.  The resulting maul trundled over from 5 metres, Daire Mort touching down and O’Rawe converting to put Ballymena ahead.

Ballymena then began to hit their stride and a dominant pack carried hard time and again pressuring the home side and committing defenders, O’Rawe then released the backs and full back Michael Read showed fleet of foot making a clean line break from the 22, carrying towards the opposition line and committing the full back before putting support runner David Surgeoner in for a well worked try under the posts. O’Rawe added then extras to make the score 3-14.

The dominance of the Ballymena pack continued and again opened up space for O’Rawe to put in a clinical miss pass on the blind side to winger Ben Shaw who dived over in the corner to stretch the lead.

Banbridge regrouped and then hit back, a loose Ballymena penalty kick to touch missing its mark and a  counterattack saw their full back stride through the chasing defence to score under the post.

A penalty kick from O’Rawe made the score 10-22 at half time to Ballymena.

In the second half Banbridge again came back strongly and the game was closely contested; but Ballymena held firm, the first score of the half went to Craig Houston following a Jack Richie break, a quick ruck and Houston reacting quickly to crash over the line through the retreating defence. 

The game continued to be tight for a number of minutes with both teams pushing and stretching each other.  Banbridge then struck back, a scrum close the Ballymena line being converted to a try to make the score 15-29. But hard-working second row Timmy Carson capped off his dominant performance with a tap penalty close range try on 65 minutes to secure a 15-36 victory.