Ballymena rack up half-century of points in opener

BALLYMENA started their 2010 campaign in the Ulster Senior League with a home match against Rainey OB.

The first half was a pretty mundane affair but Ballymena upped the ante in the second half and were very impressive as they ran out winners by 52 points to 22.

The match began at a slow tempo with both sides eager to play good rugby but neither able to get the upper hand as they both kind of cancelled each other out. However the breakthrough came in the 21st minute when Rainey took the lead with a converted try.

Ballymena came back at Rainey but they defended well and although the home side went close on a couple of occasions the first try was elusive.

That was until the half hour when Adrian Hamilton got the score. Ballymena had a good period of play in the Rainey 22 and after half a dozen phases they released the ball along the line and Hamilton was on hand to nip through a gap and score leaving Gareth Fisher with an easy conversion to level the scores.

With half time approaching, Ballymena were on the attack when Gareth Fisher decided to change the point of attack with a cross-kick. Matthew Banks took the ball well but was somewhat isolated.

However the forwards soon arrived and recycled the ball along the line and Alistair Fraser scored. Fisher converted to make the half time score 14 points to seven for the home side.

Rainey started the second half strongly and their early pressure produced a penalty which cut the lead to 4 points but Ballymena came back with three points of their own to restore the difference.

Then Ballymena took complete control of the proceedings and in a 12 minutes spell they played superb rugby and sealed the victory.

Tries came from Roger McBurney, Connor Smith and Matthew Banks, and a penalty try was awarded when Martin Irwin looked likely to win a race to touch down but he was impeded. Gareth Fisher converted all these tries to give the home side a 35 points cushion.

A further try came in the 70th minute from Alan Smyth and again Fisher added the extras. After this Ballymena relaxed a little and in the closing minutes Rainey scored two tries with one conversion to make the final score 52 points to 22.

This was a more than satisfactory start to the season and the side showed a hunger for points.

So many times in recent years in these type of matches, Ballymena plodded along to a narrow victory and then when they they tried to lift their game there was nothing there.

Perhaps there is a good season ahead for the Eaton Park faithful.

Ballymena: R McBurney; M Banks, D Montgomery, A Fraser, A Smyth; M Irwin, G Fisher; J Carson, J Taggart, C Cundell, D O'Kane, C Smith, A Kerr, P Pritchard, A Hamilton.