Rugby: Defeat for Dungannon against Ballymena in last Ulster League tie of season

Darren Simpson on his way for a try.
Darren Simpson on his way for a try.

Dungannon 14-29 Ballymena

Dungannon hosted ‘country cousins’, Ballymena in their final game of Ulster League and, despite a keenly contested affair, were unable top overturn the in-form Braid men.

Ballymena attacked from the first whistle and it took some hefty tackles from James Bates, Darren Simpson and James McMahon to keep the visitors at bay.

However, on 15 minutes Ballymena made the breakthrough when the ball was flung wide for winger, Jordan Foster to race over for the opening try. Ritchie McMaster added the extras.

The Braid men kept the momentum going and hooker, Adam McBurney used his pace and strength to add a second midway through the half. Again McMaster converted to send the visitors 14 points clear.

Dungannon then had attacking opportunities in the second quarter with Jack Milligan, Gareth McGonigle and Lawton moving the ball well before marginal decisions spoiled chances and the half ended 0-14.

At the start of the second half McMaster extended the Ballymena advantage when he landed a simple penalty.

Dungannon retorted and, when Jake Finlay took play down the blind side, Jonny Toal took the final pass perfectly to go in at the corner on 45 minutes. Milligan landed a superb conversion for 7-17.

A quickly taken penalty almost brought a try for Finlay before Milligan went close with a penalty attempt.

However, come the hour mark some slack defending allowed McMaster to take off and score from 40 metres, Ballymena now in comfort zone.

Dungannon returned to the offensive in the final quarter but not before Darryl Montgomery scored the bonus point try for Ballymena.

McMaster brought his personal tally to 12 points when he knocked over the conversion but final say fell to Dungannon when McMahon juggled the ball well before sending Lawton down the right hand flank.

Darren Simpson took the final pass and dotted down in the corner. Another superb conversion from Milligan completed the scoring at 14-29.

Dungannon: Jake Finlay, Darren Simpson, Michael Lawton, Gareth McGonigle, Mark Faloon, Jack Milligan James Bates, Steven Sinnamon, Daniel Maxwell, Glen Sinnamon, David Leyburn, Bryan Davidson, Peter Smith, Peter Gilkinson, James McMahon.

Ballymena: James Beattie, Jordan Foster, Martin Irwin, Darryl Montgomery, Jonny McMullan, Ritchie McMaster, Frazer Wallace, Bryan Yong, Adam McBurney, Chris Cundell, Mark Foster, Ian Caldwell, Matthew Christie, Willie McKay, James Gallagher.

Referee: Paul Baxter, Portadown