Ballynahinch 6’s 20 Malone 4’s 17
Match Report 5th October 2013
Hugh Thurgate Reports from Ballymacarn Park
On a positively Mediterranean Saturday afternoon Ballynahinch 6’s finally got their 2013/14 season underway, having spent five weeks in the doldrums after a dearth of fixtures and a cancellation.
Ritchie Spiers once more took the helm as Captain. After six months inactivity and with the majority of the team ill acquainted with the oval ball Hinch got off to a remarkably positive start against a physically fit and strong Malone side entering their third start of the campaign.
Malone wanted to run everything and if their passing had been as adept as their off-loading and support play Ballynahinch would have been seriously under the cosh. The Malone men proved to be very sturdy on their feet and difficult to bring down with first up tackles. Their was the odd glimmer of penetration from the men in green with Mattie Shields showing early form having taken on the Number Ten shirt.
A rare foray into their opponents twenty-two led to last season’s player of the year William Truesdale busting his way through for a score. This lifted the home side but it wasn’t long before the visitors hit back with a good turn of pace from their outside centre who ran 50m to score under the posts. This was quickly followed by their right winger who made mince meat of Alan Wilson to go in at the right corner.
The pace of the game, the heat and lack of match fitness conspired against the Ballynahinch outfit and the floodgates looked perilously close to breaching. However Malone spurned some very kickable penalties and a well struck kick from Shields kept Hinch in the game going in at half time 17-13 behind.
With a light breeze on their backs and mild slope advantage Ballynahinch started the second half brightly. Ben Wilson started to get into the game and looked very comfortable in his natural position at full back. Jiannis McNeill after a three year sojourn at Queens was back at Ballymacarn and brought strength and pace into the centre and Gareth Chambers showed good technical ability at twelve returning after a long term absence with a knee injury.
The backline looked a lot better balanced than last year and on a big pitch and fast twitch fibres functioning at ten there was pace and fluidity to the three quarters. Malone battered on through the half, convinced of their ability to run from all field positions but Hinch held firm and despite serious fatigue the forwards started to compete better in the loose, notably in the driving maul.
The pack had an epic final quarter and invoked repeated penalties from a Malone pack unable to deal with the marauding green onslaught. Richey Spiers and Michael Evans battered their way close to the line and Truesdale and Turner combined heroically but couldn’t brake through. However real determination and never say die attitude saw the Sixes finally rewarded with Alan Wilson being put away into a nice hole to take the lead. Shields conversion took the gap to three points.
Malone made one final foray into the Hinch twenty-two but a deft volley off stray lineout ball by Magowan saw the ball sail into touch and the final whistle blow. After some refereeing confusion and a query over the final score Ballynahinch breathed a sigh of relief after being given the verdict. This was a terrific victory for last years runners up.
With Richey Spiers about to head over the water Mark Magowan is set to take on the baton of leadership. Next up Donaghadee and hopefully a run of ten consecutive matches though there are worrying early signs that some clubs have shrunk over the summer and fielding lowest sides in a club might be an issue. Mattie Shields was awarded Man Of the Match.
Final Score: Ballynahinch 6’s 20 – Malone 4’s 17