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Ballynahinch Firsts Squeeze Past UCD In Tough Contest
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‪Ulster Bank League

UCD  26  Ballynahinch RFC  Firsts   32

Match Report  4 January 2014

Michael Graham reports from UCD Bowl

Ballynahinch headed to Dublin to take on University College Dublin in their first match of 2014, knowing they had to start they year well to ensure they refined their place in Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League.  Having played the students and finished above them in Division 1B, a good contest in Dublin was expected.‏

Ballynahinch received the kick off, playing with a slight breeze at their backs. The first main play of the half came after a great break from Blane McIlroy saw the ball fed to Michael Lawton, whose kick ahead and follow-up tackle on the UCD defender saw the students concede penalty for not releasing. Ritchie Lobb’s first shot at goal just inside the 10m line was successful.

dn_screenHinch maintained the pressure on the Students with strong running from centres Matthew Arneill and Stuart Morrow causing trouble every time they took the ball forward. After an up and under caused trouble for the UCD defence, David Mcillwaine just missed the foot race to touch down. UCD managed to clear their lines, but the ensuing line out for Hinch was successful and the Students faced more pressure within their own 22 as the Hinch forwards controlled a maul, working the ball up the pitch to see Johnny Madden cross the line for the County Down side’s first score. Lobb successfully converted a difficult kick to see 12 mins played with the scoreline at UCD 0 – Ballynahinch 10.

Hinch recovered the kick-off well and great play again from Arneill put the visitors on the attack, only for a UCD infringement to slow play as the penalty was awarded against the home side. A quick tap resulted in a further penalty for UCD not being ten and Lobb successfully converted to see the County Down men go 13-0 up.

UCD now took matters into their own hands and weak tackling and a resultant ‘soft’ penalty for not rolling away gave the home team a shot at goal and seeing them close the gap.

UCD maintained their pressure as they continued to attack the Hinch defence. Clever forwards and back interplay allowed the students to work their way inside the visitors half, but the Hinch defence held strong forcing the students to take a successful drop goal after 30 mins.

Ballynahinch missed a further try scoring opportunity on 34 mins as they chose to take a quick penalty over the points and attempted to maul their way towards the student’s try line, but with Aaron Cairns the extra man on the overlap, the final pass went into touch.

A missed touch kick  from UCD saw Aaron Cairns feed Mcillwaine, who attacked into the 22, only to see the students increase their penalty tally  for not releasing the player. McIlroy took the quick tap and forced his way to within 10 metres  of the UCD line and with the home side’s defence in tatters, desperation  struck as the student’s No 10 was sin binned.for repeated infringements. Lobb took another easy 3 points from the resultant penalty.

Lobb rounded off the half with a 5th penalty, leaving the home side 19-6 up at half time.

The County Down men came out on the attack straight from the start of the second half with a big carrying from Kyle McCall breaking several UCD tackles and the subsequent  pressure saw the students infringe again, but this time Lobb’s long range shot at goal drifted wide.

The UCD winger caught the kick, but refused to touch down and then ‘shanked’ his clearance, resulting in a line out within the UCD 22 for the County Down men.

Good line out throw by hooker Johnny Murphy saw Hinch win the ball easily and with the ball moved quickly along the backs, saw Mcillwaine bursting through under the posts. Lobb secured the extras.

The restart kick saw the students get some luck of their own as Hinch dropped the ball, allowing UCD to recover their own kick and then pressure the Hinch line, resulting in a try for the home side in the left corner. the conversion went wide.

Hinch started to feel the pressure of a fired up UCD team and the penalty count started to go in the student’s favour. On 55 kins played, Matty McKeown whip had replaced the injured Dominic Gallagher was sin binned for killing the ball at a ruck, allowing UCD to take an easy 3 points.

Lobb converted a further incredibly difficult penalty from the touchline to see Hinch increase their lead to 29 points on 60 mins.

The students still hadn’t given up and a dangerous chip ahead from their own scrum saw Hinch have to rapidly defend their own line.

Cairns did well to field the kick through but was driven over the try line resulting in a 5m scrum for the students. Hinch defended the scrum well and the ensuing pressure resulting in a further 5 m scrum under the posts.

McIllwaine put in a huge hit on the attacking UCD centre and with excellent work from Madden holding the centre up, forces a turnover and scrum to the visitors on their line, Lobb clearing to the Hinch 22.

The pressure was all from the County Down means they fought their way back into the UCD half. Excellent work from Paul Pritchard at the breakdown and with Lobb cleverly using his boot to fine distance saw the students resolve crumble and give away a further penalty. Lobb slotted the 3 points from long range to see Hinch’s control of the match increase.

UCD were not finished completely and after several phases of play, forced a great move down the pitch into the Hinch 22 that saw some desperate defence from the visitors and resulted in Kenny Morton being shown a yellow for killing the ball. The students reacted quickly and took a quick penalty that resulted in a try in the corner for the home side and a very difficult conversion being successful.

The match now entered injury time and UCD were now playing for the losing bonus point. The students received the kick off and ran from deep seeing the gal move through several pairs of hands and although McIlwaine defended well, the extra man came into play and saw the home side score in the corner without the extras, but securing themselves a hard fought losing bonus point.

Final Score: UCD 26 – Ballynahinch 32

Overall and excellent match for the County Down side away to a very difficult opposition and fantastic to come home with a win in the first All Ireland match of 2014, to round off a very successful day for the club with all sides having victories at home and away.

Team: Kyle McCall, Jonny Murphy, Michael Crommie, Kenny Morton, John Madden, Paul Pritchard, Dominic Gallagher, Neil Faloon, Blane McIlroy, Ritchie Lobb, Aaron Cairns, Matthew Arneill, Stuart Morrow, Michael Lawton, David Mcillwaine

Subs – Chris Taylor, Peter Nelson, Matthew McKeown, Jordan Grattan, Aaron Ferris