Dungannon weather a big storm to defend Cup
Dungannon retained the Jack Kyle Memorial Cup with a 26-15 victory over Ballymena but the Stevenson Park contest was a lot closer than the scoreline suggests.
Despite the wet weather, both teams attempted to play open and attractive rugby for the large Boxing Day crowd and a total of six tries were scored.
Ballymena rested a number of key players with one eye on their important AIL fixture against Old Wesley on Saturday and coach Andy Graham was pleased with his weakened team's effort.
He said: "Dungannon were sharper at the breakdown but towards the end when we were trailing 19-15 we attacked their line for a long period but were unable to break through.
"They then broke away for the deciding try. We had a number of seconds in the line-up to give them a game before their Towns Cup tie against Ballyclare at the weekend and all the guys fronted up well."
The Eaton Park team were seven points in arrears before flanker Ollie Miller side-stepped his way in for a try from 40 metres out for Rory Drysdale to goal. The out-half later kicked a penalty but they were 19-10 down at the interval before taking control for most of the second period.
Graham added: "After the restart the pressure had to tell and our scrum-half Glen Bailie, who was outstanding, gained possession from a line-out and dived over. Ollie Miller also put in a lot of work and prop James Douglas, just out of school last year, came on as a replacement and made an impression."
Dungannon had earlier gone in front with a Michael Lawton try, which Paul Armstrong converted, and they had two more before half-time. Stephen Sinnamon crossed and Mark Jenkinson finished off a passing move for Armstrong to add the points. Finally, a couple of neat passes allowed Jake Finlay to cruise in.