Ballynahinch suffer first defeat at Antrim in Minor East title chase
Antrim 26 Ballynahinch 18
BALLYNAHINCH VI started their challenge for the Minor East 1 title with nine straight wins but came unstuck on Saturday when they found Antrim 26-18 too difficult to handle at Allen Park.
For the first 10 minutes, Antrim mounted a number of attacks with Darren Crooks, Neil Manson and David McKee putting in a lot of work.
The pressure told when McKee burst through and player/coach Richard Smyth touched down for Toby Rowe to goal.
Then Jack Dempster took off with a penetrating run and a superb off-load to Manson resulted in a 14-point advantage. Hinch were slow to fight back but did reduce the deficit to 14-8 by the half-way stage when Chris Orr had a try and Matthew Shields kicked an easy penalty.
The Antrim pack was more than matching their bigger opponents and had a number of turnovers which eventually took them to a position close to their opponent's line where Matthew Dempster and Webb showed their power for the latter to score.
Hinch did manage to show some of their skills but opportunities were wasted by conceding too many penalties.
When one of their clearance kicks was charged down, Rowe reacted quickly to make it 26-8.
The visitors played their best towards the end when Orr crossed for his second and Ben Wilson scored in the last play of the game.
Coach Smyth thought his team had more to give. He said: "It was not our best performance of the season but all played satisfactorily, especially Matthew Webb who was ever present at the breakdown and was the Man of the Match."