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Pete McKenzie eyes future success with Ballymena

By Ronnie Ingram

Ballymena's Director of Rugby Pete McKenzie is setting his sights high after the Braidmen's 43-16 victory over Rainey.

The win at Hatrick Park moved Ballymena to the top of the Ulster Senior League, but McKenzie wants more.

"We are determined to become the No. 1 team in Ulster again," he said.

"Last season was very disappointing, with relegation from the AIL 1B as well as being in the doldrums in the Senior League once again.

"After that members sat down and had a heart-to-heart about our future direction and everyone is now fighting harder with the goal of winning more trophies.

"There are a number of players excelling in the seconds and our aim is to create a problem for the coach with his selection.

"I feel we are on our way back as results have been encouraging and there is a more confident air around the club."

While Ballymena head the table with 31 points, Ballynahinch are only one point in arrears with four games to play. Malone and Rainey are joint third, but virtually out of the running on 20 points. The title could well be decided when Ballymena travel to Hinch on February 22.

Rainey took the lead with two Mark O'Connor penalties before quick ball around half-way resulted in visiting centre Paddy James showing pace to cut through and score. The home team retorted with a well taken Michael Shiels try converted by O'Connor but, following a line-out from the home line the ball was recycled a couple of times before Brian Young was driven over for Drysdale to convert.

After the restart, Ballymena dictated the pattern of play, bullying their opponents out of the game.

" We kept pushing the opposing scrum back but we were helped when they had a prop yellow carded and we took advantage" commented McKenzie.

"No 8 Adrian Hamilton scored two tries before second row Conor Spence crashed over. Scrum-half Glenn Bailie showed his skills with the final try.

"Rory Drysdale had an encouraging game as the last line of defence and also kicked five conversions and a penalty."

Senior League results: Armagh 49 Ards 10, Ballymena 43 Rainey 16, City of Derry 35 Banbridge 24, Instonians 6 Dungannon 0, Malone 12 Belfast Harequins 3, Queen's 7 Ballynahinch 29.

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