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Ballymena's stamina is key factor

By Ronnie Ingram

Dungannon II battled bravely in their Towns' Cup tie against Ballymena II for the first hour before wilting to give the visitors a warranted 32-17 success at Stevenson Park.

Conditions were ideal for running rugby and a total of seven tries were scored, mainly coming from the backs with the visiting three-quarters looking a bit more dangerous while in possession.

Dungannon opened the scoring with a Peter Smith try in the fourth minute but the Eaton Park team were soon ahead when Richard McCrudden linked with the charging Matthew Harkness, who crashed over for Johnny McMullan to goal.

The home team were caught unawares when a quickly taken penalty by McCrudden saw the scrum-half dash in to make it 12-5. McMullan then added a penalty with the help of an upright but Dungannon fought back and deservedly reduced the arrears to 15-10 by the interval following constructive forward play which ended with prop Sean O'Hagan barging over.

Eight minutes into the second period, the visitors stretched their advantage with another McMullan penalty and he was again on target after Johnny Rosborough showed his pace on the wing to run in.

Undaunted, Dungannon kept to their task and forward pressure led to a yellow card for Ballymena. A second infringement ensued and a penalty try was awarded for Jake Finlay to goal.

Only eight points behind, the home team fought gallantly but their hopes were thwarted when the powerful David Whann crossed in the 60th minute for McMullan to convert for the final points of the game.

Towns' Cup first round results: Armagh II 16 Omagh 12, Carrickfergus 14 Ballyclare 11, Coleraine 11 Ballymoney 3, Dungannon II 17 Ballymena II 32, Enniskillen 32 Randalstown 8, Holywood 27 Lisburn 8, Lurgan 20 Larne 22, Portadown 43 Limavady 17, Rainey II 20 Dromore 40. City of Derry II, Banbridge II, Donaghadee, Clogher Valley, Bangor, Ards II and Ballynahinch II were all given byes.

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