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Veteran Skelton inspires Money to unlikely draw

By RONNIE INGRAM

'Toss' Skelton, the 56-year-old Dalriada Headmaster playing his 728th game of rugby, had a large part to play in Ballymoney III's unexpected 13-13 draw against Coleraine on Saturday.

It was a double header at Lodge Road as not only were Junior 4 League points at stake but also the Robinson Cup, which the visitors retained after winning the trophy last season.

Coleraine had earlier defeated their opponents 6-3 and it was assumed that home advantage would make a difference but it was not to be.

Despite the dropping of a point, the Co. Derry team are still well placed in the Section lying in third.

Academy II lead with 14 points from 11 games, Portadown III have 12 from 10 but Coleraine are in the advantageous position of 11 from 9.

"We took the lead after five minutes with a Nathaniel Steele penalty and 20 minutes later flanker 'Toss' set up the move that led to our first try" said the Ballymoney vice-captain Neal Campbell.

"He picked up and drove into the middle of the park where constructive play from scrum-half Russell Irwin led to out-half Steele switching the ball to Toss' son Andrew at first centre, who ran in to touch down under the posts for Steele to add the points"

Coleraine were also playing attacking rugby and captain Robert Andrews capitalised on a concerted effort to force his way over for Ian Young to convert. Penalties were swopped by Steele and Young to make the interval score 13-10 in Ballymoney's favour.

There was little between the teams for most of the second period but Coleraine, with Jamie Carson showing up well in the centre, probably deserved to level with a Young penalty in the 78th minute, especially as he had hit the post with an earlier attempt.

Campbell said: "We knew that Coleraine were higher in the table than ourselves and we had an exceedingly difficult task on our hands.

"But on the day we thought we had the edge as they were never in front.

"Both teams played to a high standard and, as well as 'Toss', I thought hooker Joe Hegarty and winger Chrissy Morrison performed well."

Three weeks ago Junior 3 League leaders Rainey III had only lost once but the holiday period has proved disastrous for them with two unexpectedly large defeats at the hands of Ballynahinch V 39-3 and Ballymena III 35-0, on Saturday.

Their position now is not so invincible but they still head the table with 15 points from 11 games while Hinch have 12 from 10 with Queen's III's catching up fast with 11 from seven.

Belfast Telegraph

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