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Braidmen falter yet again to leave hopes of play-off in tatters

AIL Division One

By Michael Sadlier

You sense things are slipping away from Ballymena regarding their promotion hopes after another defeat came their way at the weekend when second-placed UL Bohemians triumphed 30-23 at Eaton Park.

And though the still sixth-placed Braidmen did at least gather up a losing bonus point the fact that this was a third defeat in four games for Andy Graham's squad dealt a heavy blow to their play-off hopes.

As things stand, Ballymena are now five points adrift of the play-off zone and Old Wesley who sit in fourth place and Graham will now be focusing hard on the Braidmen's run-in which involves them playing four games with three of them against sides below them.

And there is an added niggling issue as they are by no means entirely clear of being dragged down to the wrong end of the table as the Braidmen stand only seven points ahead of Galwegians who are in ninth.

Saturday, though, will have hurt Ballymena who led 13-10 at half-time after a try from scrum-half Dave Shanahan and a conversion and two penalties from fellow Ulster squad member Brett Herron.

But Bohs got the better of things in the second half and the Braidmen's only points came from a penalty try along with a conversion and penalty from the boot of Herron.

Indeed, the Braidmen were merely trailing Bohs by a point until the concession of two late penalties took it away from them.

The result meant a second costly defeat in succession following the tanking Ballymena took at Old Wesley.

Elsewhere, still fifth-placed Ballynahinch's match at Naas was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch and they, like Ballymena, still have it all to do regarding promotion and avoiding a possible relegation issue.

Div 1B: Ballymena 23 UL Bohs 30, Buccaneers 19 Dolphin 5, Galwegians 7 Old Wesley 7, Naas v Ballynahinch off, Shannon 20 UCC 14

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