The Braidmen recorded a fourth successive bonus point win beating Barnhall 44-25 at Eaton Park to move level on points at the top of Division 2A with Queen’s as the students suffered their first defeat of the campaign.
Ballymena were quick out of the gates with lock Johnny Browne getting the game’s first try with Tim Small converting.
Barnhall quickly responded with a converted try of their own but Ballymena struck straight back as hooker James McCormick scored his sixth try of the campaign.
Barnhall took the lead with two penalties before home full back Rodger McBurney got Ballymena’s third try.
The Braidmen had centre Sam Miller yellow carded and Barnhall regained the lead with a converted try.
Ballymena went into the interval with a 24-20 lead courtesy of a fourth try from backrower James McNabney.
David Whann made a line break before Small put McNabney over and the out half landed the conversion.
Barnhall were back in front shortly after the break with an unconverted try.
Adam Lamont got Ballymena’s fifth try with Small converted.
Matthew Corr profited from an intercept to go under the posts for the home side’s sixth try, Small converted and added two late penalties.
The win means Ballymena join Queen’s and Buccaneers on 20 points but are third on points difference.
Queen’s remain top despite their last gasp 27-21 defeat against Cashel at the Dub. Johnny Hunter, Robbie Johnson and Conor McKee scored the students tries.
Rainey moved up to seventh after a 24-12 win over Nenagh at Hatrick Park. For a second successive week all four Ulster clubs in the top two divisions tasted defeat.
Ballynahinch were plunged further into the relegation mire at the bottom of Division 1A after a 42-17 defeat by UCD at Belfield.
The Dubliners scored five tries while ‘Hinch got three touch downs through scrum half Conor McAuley, South African full back Shane Ball and former Ulster prop Kyle McCall.
The defeat leaves ‘Hinch one place of the bottom and seven points behind Terenure in eighth.
Banbridge remain bottom of Division 1B after a 28-22 defeat by Naas at Rifle Park although Mark McDowell’s side registered their first points of the season.
Bann received a try scoring and a losing bonus point and are four points adrift of Ulster rivals Malone.
Hooker Peter Cromie got two of Bann’s four tries with prop Michael Cromie and full back Adam Doherty also crossing.
Malone picked up a losing bonus point in a 16-11 defeat at Old Wesley, Andy Bryans got the Belfast side’s try with Rory Campbell kicking two penalties.
Kyle Faloon scored all of Armagh’s points in a 18-13 home defeat by Navan. The full back got a try, a conversion and two penalties.
Belfast Harlequins are second in Division 2B after a 16-14 win at Galwegians after a scoreless first half Paul Kerr kicked three penalties and converted Malcolm Corry’s try, while Dungannon are up to third after a 26-12 win at Stevenson Park over Malahide.
Bangor needed a penalty try to beat Omagh 13-11 in the Division 2C Ulster derby at Upritchard Park, City of derry lost 38-15 at Bruff.