The conditions were anything but ideal but Ballymena just about got the better of the wind and rain to register a vital win over bottom club Buccaneers in Saturday night’s floodlit game at Dubarry Park.
Elsewhere, the winning feeling was also to be found in Division Two, where both Belfast Harlequins and Malone registered important victories over Old Wesley and Corinthians respectively.
The Braidmen snatched the game late on with a penalty from out half Davy O’Hara which gave the visitors a deserved 16-13 result and moves them up one place to fourth and, crucially, nine points clear of the current relegation zone.
After trailing 10-3 at the turnaround, a solitary O’Hara penalty being Ballymena’s only score, the visitors knuckled down to work and proved themselves, with Ulster’s Ian Whitten togging out in midfield, more adept at dealing with the deteriorating conditions.
A try from hooker Ryan Fisher was converted by O’Hara to level the scores and then a second O’Hara penalty alongside a second from his opposite number JH Potgeiter saw both sides again locked together at 13-13.
It looked as if both would have to be content to share the points until O’Hara’s late moment which saw him land his third penalty and give Ballymena their second successive away win — the last time they played in the AIL being at Dungannon in mid-December — and a crucial boost for morale ahead of Saturday when they host promotion chasing Old Belvedere.
In Division Two, Belfast Harlequins halted a four game losing streak with a thumping five try 36-11 result at Old Wesley which earned Andy Ward’s side maximum points and saw them, thanks to other results, bounce up the table from 10th to sixth to sit a mere three points adrift of second-placed DLSP.
At Gibson Park, Ulster centre Mark McCrea scored two tries on his return game from injury as Malone impressively closed out Corinthians 21-10.