AIL Division 1A. Venue: Ballymacarn Park. Ballynahinch 3 Clontarf 13. James Kirk reports.
The first big home game was played in unseasonal sunshine at Ballymacarn Park on Saturday and it was great to see plenty of local support for the hosts as they attempted to get a first win of the AIL season.
Adam Craig rang the changes after the away defeat to Young Munster. There were debuts for Tagen Strydom, Shane Ball and Reuben Crothers and Harry Simpson came off the bench to taste Division 1A action for the first time.
Clontarf arrived fully loaded with a full hand of provincial releases including tight head Vakh Abdaladze and outhalf David Hawkshaw, both of whom have had significant game with the Leinster first team . The vastly experienced Matt D’Arcy captained the side from inside centre.
Clontarf set their stall out early on and the pattern of the match changed little thereafter. The visitors controlled territory and possession and swamped the home 22 for the first fifteen minutes of the match.
An early yellow card for a cynical bit of work at the breakdown from Olly Loughead invited more pressure but heroic home defence led by the outstanding Kyle McCall kept the visitors out and in their first foray into opposition territory Ballynahinch took the lead.
Callum Irvine carried hard up the blind side from a scrum and fed the flying Aaron Cairns who powered into the Clontarf 22 and when the ball was recycled the visitors coughed up a straightforward penalty which Greg Hutley converted for the opening points of the match.
The second quarter of the match was a scrappy affair with a lack of continuity from both sides although the pattern remained the same with Ballynahinch forced to defend as they struggled to keep the ball. However the home defence and set piece proved rock solid and they made it to half time with few alarms.
Turning round to face the clubhouse having absorbed all that the massive Clontarf forwards had thrown at them, there was confidence among players and supporters that the game was there to be won. However indiscipline at the breakdown gave the visitors a chance to pin them back once again and despite excellent maul defence another penalty allowed Hawkshaw to level the scores.
From the kickoff Ballynahinch forced Clontarf to defend deep but a gap on the narrow side allowed busy left wing Jordan Mulvaney to make an excellent 40m break. Strydom shipped a head injury when stopping the hard charging Tony Ryan in his tracks and Ballynahinch were forced to regroup having also lost lock James Simpson.
Clontarf turned the screw with another excellent maul and despite more superb defence there was an air of inevitability about the try scored by hooker Dylan Donnellan from close range, converted by Hawkshaw for a seven point lead on the hour mark.
With twenty minutes to go there was plenty of time for Ballynahinch to push for an unlikely win but their opponents continued to dominate the ball and it became a quest to hold on to a losing bonus point instead of pushing for a win.
Clontarf eventually clinched victory with another Hawkshaw penalty with five minutes to go and Ballynahinch were left without a point after two games despite fronting up with some serious physicality in the face of two fancied squads. Coaches and management will be concerned with just one try – an intercept – in two games and the injuries that have started to pile up. However the commitment and workrate continues to be of an exceptional standard and There is no respite this week with a trip to face a Trinity side fresh from a thumping win over UCD.
Ballynahinch 1-21: B Cullen, Z McCall, K McCall, T Donnan, J Donnan, R Crothers, O Loughead, C Irvine, C Gibson, G Hutley, A Cairns, T Strydom, R Wilson, S Ball, P Wright, T Stewart, H Simpson, J Simpson, B Luney, C McAuley, J Milligan.
Ballynahinch RFC Rugby Round-up – 09/10/2021
The seconds and fifths were both involved in classic topsy-turvy encounters at the weekend. Davy Harris continued to see improvement in his second team as they scored five tries to come out 36-29 winners at CIYMS. He will be pleased with their position in the Conference League after a tough start and having played all the leading sides. There is potential to move up the table over the coming weeks. Meanwhile the fifths shared ten tries with Newry 2s only to lose 34-32 in an entertaining encounter.
Ballyclare were the hosts for the U14 and U18 sides with both teams racking up the points in securing victory. The U18s were delighted to be back in action after their opening fixtures were both cancelled. Jojo Naga rounded off a fine individual performance with two scores.
Youth Training continues with U12/U14 at 7pm on Monday and U16/U18 at 7pm on Wednesday. All players welcome and no experience necessary. Contact Michael Preston for details on 07702050192.
Mini rugby continues on Saturday mornings from 9.30-11am. Boys and girls from P1 – Yr8 are all welcome, with training run for each age group in their school year. Mini rugby news is posted weekly on the club Facebook page – www.facebook.com/ballynahinchrfcofficial. For more details contact David Martin – Mini Convenor on 07837944892 or email email@example.com.
Details of how to purchase tickets for the First XV matches and a full selection of Hinch merchandise can be found on our social media outlets and on the club app.
AIL pre-match lunches are back. Contact James Shaw 07740308051, Erin Hodgen 07540706564 or David George 07951610151
Autumn international tickets are available. See App or website for details.
Ballynahinch 3 Clontarf 13 (AIL Division 1A)
CIYMS 29 Ballynahinch 2 36 (Conference 1)
Newry 2 34 Ballynahinch 5 32 (Regional South)
Ballyclare U14 7 Ballynahinch U14 59
Ballyclare U18 10 Ballynahinch U18 44
Dublin University vs Ballynahinch (AIL 1A)
Ballynahinch 2 vs Grosvenor (Conference 1)
Ballynahinch 3 vs Banbridge 3 (Provincial Premier 1)
Ballynahinch 4 vs Queens 3 (Provincial East 1)
Carrick U14 vs Ballynahinch U14 (Regional East)
Carrick U18 vs Ballynahinch U18 (Regional East)