Provincial League – Section 1 Sat 8/9/18,
Ballynahinch 3’s 36 Dungannon 2’s 10.
Richard Hart reports from Ballymacarn Park.
It was a home fixture against Dungannon 2nd XV to get the Hinch 3rd XV started on their 2018/2019 league campaign.
On a day perfectly suited to running rugby, the County Down side did not disappoint and from the off, provided the spectators with an entertaining contest. The 3rd XV were a mix of experience and youth, with starts for ex-Down High school boys Harris McConnell and Zac Fisher, ex-Hinch U18 player Sean Sweeney; all mixed in with the proficiency of Captain Matthew Norton, Davy Nicholson and Mike Carson, amongst many others.
Hinch started strong playing away from the Clubhouse and attacked deep into the Dungannon half. After 7 minutes of play, Jonny Blair, with a great body position at the ruck, stole a ball from the visitors, before seeing the ball off-loaded to the strong-running Davey Maggs, gaining ground before he off-loaded to the charging Harris McConnell, who deftly slipped the ball to back rower Keiran McAulay, before Captain Norton received the final pass and dotted down for the opening score and going on to add the extras. 7-0
With huge experience in the County Down pack, they pressure the Gannon tight eight hard and forced several errors, allowing the Hinch eight to maul almost unchallenged over the County Tyrone line for hooker Robert Gilmore to get the second score after 15 minutes of play. The extras were missed, but Hinch had set their stall out for the day. 12-0
Dungannon rallied themselves and attacked deep into the Hinch half, but resolute defence from the youngster Sweeney, prop Blair and the back-row partners of McAulay and Brian Howard held the line, only allowing the visitors a successful penalty strike after 25 minutes.12-3
Hinch recovered the kick-off and attacked again into the Tyrone team’s half through the swift hands and fast running of Blair, Matt McKelvey and supported by Nicholson and Jason Barr. With the visitors slicing their clearance kick into touch, a Hinch lineout in the Dungannon 22’ saw the ball land with McAulay, who saw a gap, dodged the scrabbling tackle of the Gannon Scrum-Half and dotted down for Hinch’s third try. 17-3
On the 32-minute mark, Referee Tim McLennan, who had warned the Hinch defensive line on several occasions about creeping off-side, was forced to come good on his promise as the County Down team infringed again, with Sean Sweeney the recipient of the ‘team’ Yellow Card, leaving Hinch to play the remainder of the half with 14 men.
HT – Hinch 3s 17 Dungannon 2s 3
With Sweeney back on the pitch on the 42-minute mark and Hinch back to full strength, an outstanding break down the right wing from second row Andy Simpson, fresh back from holidays, saw the ball recycled back across the pitch through several sets of hands for Mike Carson to dot down for the bonus point score. 22-3
The County Tyrone side had another brief period of resurgence towards the end of the third quarter, but once again, it was the Ballymacarn side that had the upper hand. After solid work by the forwards, scrum half Chris Gibson, spotting an overlap, moved the ball blind to Norton, who with a clever missed pass to Nicholson, saw him dot down for the fifth try on the left wing. Norton added the very difficult extras to see Hinch’s lead stretch to 29-3 after 63 Minutes.
Hinch secured their sixth and final score minutes later as they pressed deep in to the ever tiring Dungannon 22’, with Matt McKelvey going in under the posts and Norton adding the extras. 36-3
The close of the game saw the County Down side once again reduced to 14 men as Mike Carson received a yellow for an alleged high tackle and with Dungannon reverting to ‘up the jumper’ rugby, they managed to boss their way to and over the Hinch line, for a consolatory try from their Hooker, with the extras added. 36-10 and the final whistle blown.
FT – Ballynahinch 3’s 36 Dungannon 2’s 10.