Ballynahinch 4’s 17 Ballynahinch 3’s 12
The Hinch fourths took the league points and bragging rights following a hugely enjoyable contest under lights last Thursday night.
Skipper Andy Simpson was unable to take the field after a bad concussion sustained in the outstanding victory over Queen’s the previous weekend and the thirds were also missing talismanic outhalf Stuart McAllister, but with Dick McKelvey and Aaron Samuels on board up front and Davy Nicholson pulling the strings in the wide channels they would have been confident of victory over the winless fourths.
Walter Lyons had other ideas, keeping his selection up his sleeve until the last minute and then turning out a side full of pace and power. The Thursday night kickoff allowed some players unavailable for Saturday rugby to take the field and there were a few others coming back from injury who needed game time before returning to the 2nd XV.
In perfect conditions the game started at a high pace and sustained it throughout. The physicality was high and there was excellent attacking intent on display from both sides. The fourths took the lead through the rapid Euan Keers after excellent hands in midfield allowed him a clear run to the line.
Hooker Thomas Boyd replied for the thirds when he was driven over from a lineout but his opposite number Mike Evans returned the compliment just before half time to give the fourths a 10-5 lead at the break.
Chris Gibson extended this to 17-5 when he was on the end of a flowing breakout move and the thirds dug deep to engineer a comeback. Fraser Bowsie scored a good try in the corner and when Matthew Norton nailed the difficult conversion the gap was down to 5 points with 15 minutes remaining.
The thirds piled on the pressure in search of a victory but Gibson marshalled his charges well and the fourths held on for the win and inflicted a significant dent in the league ambitions of the thirds in the process.