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Unlucky 13 for Limavady as Ballyclare seal comeback

By Ronnie Ingram

Limavady IIs managed to put up a courageous effort with just 13 players for the entire second half before going down 51-35 to Ballyclare IIIs.

They had gone down to 14 men midway through the first half and after being reduced further at the break the handicap proved too much.

What the result would have been if replacements were allowed in the Junior League is conjecture, but an indication is that Limavady were 28 points ahead after 10 minutes of the game and were only four points behind with four remaining.

Home tries were scored in the second, sixth, eighth and 10th minutes by Thomas Macauley, Ian Miller, James Purcell and Michael McCloskey for Macauley to convert them all as Limavady made a stirring start to the game.

Ballyclare replied when scrum-half Andrew Watson and centre Stephen Bailie touched down.

The latter try was goaled by Andrew Alexander who then kicked a penalty before the home team suffered their first casualty.

With 22 minutes gone the impressive Purcell unfortunately broke his femur and play was held up for nearly 40 minutes as he was attended to.

Six minutes later Ballyclare back row forward Paul Robinson added their third which was converted and that made it 28-22 to Limavady at half time.

Ian Miller was concussed towards the end of the first period so Limavady were down to just 13 players, but they kept fighting right to the end although lack of numbers led to fatigue and Ballyclare, with better possession, played a wider game.

After 12 minutes of the second period the visitors were 36-28 ahead after converted tries from full-back David Rodgers and captain Chris Gawn.

Midway through the half Limavady managed to pressurise and were rewarded when John Purcell scored a try for Macauley to add the points.

Alexander added a second penalty in the 26th minute, but Limavady kept defending stoutly until the final minutes when centre Bailie and winger Peter Beasant both scored, the latter being converted.

The Ballyclare front-row of Tony Turner, David Tweed and Jonathan Burnett all played a large part in the win, but the man-of-the-match was Stephen Bailie with his two tries.

Limavady Manager Harry Faulkner was obviously proud of his 13 players, as he said: "We gave them a tough game and at one stage brought it back to one point.

"We battled right to the end and I must commend all our players who, against the odds, put in a magnificent performance with 100 per cent commitment."

Junior Three results: City of Derry IIIs 17 Ballymena IIIs 44, Queen's IIIs 38 Belfast Harlequins IIIs 31, Limavady IIs 35 Ballyclare IIIs 51, Rainey IIIs 22 Ballynahinch Vs 12.

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