Ballynahinch seconds scrape home

Ballynahinch seconds scrape home

29 November 2017

IAN Dornan’s high-flying second XV survived a major scare to reach the final of the Junior Cup at Kingspan Stadium on Thursday, December 21.

The holders struggled to find their rhythm against a well-drilled and disciplined Malone outfit, who can count themselves very unlucky not to have come away with a famous victory.

‘Hinch had to rejig their back line following the withdrawal of Joe Bingham and a late call-up to the first xv replacements bench for Chris Gibson.

James McBriar moved to scrum half with Justin Rea going to out half and Paddy Wright thrust into the full back jersey after a long layoff. Nevertheless, ‘Hinch were still heavy favourites to go through.

Malone had clearly not read the and began with an intensity which ‘Hinch simply couldn’t match.

Playing with the elements, they charged into the home team and deservedly led through an excellent score from outstanding open side Stuart Doddington, who broke several tackles to power over the line from 20 metres out. The straightforward conversion was missed. 

Strong carrying from back row forwards Gareth Gill and Graham McKittrick began to get ‘Hinch a foothold in the game and from their first foray into the opposition 22 excellent ball retention allowed Justin Rea to show superb handling skills as he put Paddy Wright over in the left corner.

Rea missed the difficult conversion and a kickable penalty soon after. Malone laid siege to the ‘Hinch line before half-time, but infringed at the line-out to allow ‘Hinch to push upfield with Gill winning a penalty at the breakdown which Rea drilled through the posts for an 8-5 lead. Malone closed the half with a penalty to make it 8-8 at the break.

Turning around with the elements and local knowledge, this experienced Ballynahinch team should have closed the game out comfortably, but they failed to use the conditions to gain field position and found themselves increasingly in a battle at the breakdown against a committed Malone outfit.

Indiscipline under their own posts led to two Malone penalties as experienced Malone No 8 Neil Alcorn made his presence felt. The Belfast side controlled possession in the third quarter and were good value for their 14-8 lead.

An increasingly desperate ‘Hinch side needed a converted try for victory and Dornan emptied his bench to provide some fresh legs.

They laid siege to the visitors line following a mistake from Malone out half Mark O’Connor in dealing with a long range Wright penalty. However a crooked line-out throw allowed Malone to clear their lines.

Back came Hinch with another spell of pressure as they finally started to use the elements to pin their opponents in their own 22. This time a scrum penalty relieved the pressure and moments later ‘Hinch were reduced to 14 men when they infringed once too often at the breakdown, Gill the man to have ten minutes in the bin.

Malone looked in control and comfortably repelled the Hinch attacks as the clock ran down.

Back to 15 men for the final few minutes, ‘Hinch raised themselves for a final push and centre Will Stewart, who had carried hard all afternoon, broke through a tired Malone defence from close range to score beside the posts.

Wright stepped up to convert and send his team into a final against Armagh seconds that they scarcely deserved.  

Ballynahinch II 15

Malone II 14

JUNIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL