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Ballymena boys full of confidence as top form continues

BY RONNIE INGRAM

There is an air of optimism around the Ballymena club as not only are the firsts performing well in the AIL 2A and Ulster Senior League, but the the fourths and fifths are both undefeated in Junior 5 and 6 respectively.

The fourths have won all five games, including a 34-3 defeat of Randalstown II on Saturday. The fifths, also with five successes, were without a game. Randalstown travelled with the same number of league points as their opponents but have played two extra games.

The home side had much the bigger pack but the Town defence held strong and were helped by some handling errors early on.

After 15 minutes a visit to the home '22' led to a Peter McCann penalty but Ballymena struck back with a fine try when centre Jonathan Kelly handed off the first tackler and beat the covering winger and full-back to score for Jonny Small to goal.

They continued to attack, but the Town defence held until the half hour when second row Ian Caldwell couldn't be stopped. Then, a break by winger Garret Bell brought play close to the opposition line where a few pick and goes resulted in loose head prop Rodney Hall being carried over for the conversion attempt to come off an upright.

"There is a lot more confidence throughout the club after last season's disappointments and the fourths are one of the team to reflect this" commented manager Alan Reynolds.

"We fully deserved our 17-3 interval lead but kept attacking with Ian Caldwell and Mark Ferguson outstanding, as were our wingers Donny McKendry and Garrett Bell."

Town were always trying to create something but found the opposition too difficult on the day. They played much better in the second period and Scott Goodrich was one of their eye-catching players.

A chip from home full-back Small was gathered by Bell who dived over for the fourth. The next try was "the best of the afternoon," observed Reynolds.

Adrian Hayes ripped the ball from a defender and found Mark Moffett who passed wide to McKendry. He made ground and was stopped just short but the quick-thinking winger got his hands free to offload to Darryl O'Kane, who took two tacklers over the line with him.

Towards the close Randalstown threw everything into attack, but a long pass from Thom was intercepted by Bell who ran 70 metres to go in under the posts for Small to add the points.

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