10 Dec, 12:23
Replacements: Rory Harrison, Adam Clarkin, Brian Cawley, Rob Shanley, Stephen Murphy.
Replacements: George Hargey, James Taggart, Matthew Rea, Ian Vance, Darrell Montgomery.
Reliable out-half James Thornton kicked UCD into a 6-0 lead with a couple of penalties inside the opening 10 minutes. His opposite number Rory Drysdale grabbed three points back, following a high tackle from Danny Kenny.
From the restart, the students forced a turnover and winger Sam Coghlan Murray showed great pace and power to get over in the corner for a try which Thornton converted from the touchline.
Further pressure came from a Kenny-won lineout as scrum half Jamie Glynn sent David Lynch racing through midfield. The Braidmen scrambled back to avert the danger, but Drysdale then saw yellow for a deliberate knock on close to the visitors' try-line.
It was a harsh call in some observers' eyes and although Ballymena defended manfully with full-back Ricky Andrew producing one memorable try-saving tackle, a second try for 'College was inevitable.
It came on the stroke of half-time as backs and forwards combined to tee up the in-form Barry Daly for a well-taken five-pointer, moving UCD 18-3 clear.
The Ulster Senior Cup champions had a decent spell of possession at the start of the second half, their forwards picking and going as they tried to close the gap on the scoreboard.
But they could not break down the 'College defence in which back rowers Kenny and Conor Gilsenan were outstanding. UCD showed their clinical edge in attack again when centre Alex Kelly broke free on the hour mark to create Coghlan Murray's second try.
Thornton's conversion widened the gap between the sides to 22 points. Stephen Murphy came off the bench to almost seal the bonus point - his try was ruled out from an earlier indiscretion.
But the fourth touchdown for the students arrived courtesy of flanker Gilsenan, who helped Leinster 'A' qualify for the British & Irish Cup quarter-finals last week. Thornton converted to complete his 12-point haul.
UCD are now up to fourth in the league table, while Ballymena are two points behind Bruff at the bottom. John Andrews' men will have to regroup quickly for next Friday's Ulster derby away to Malone.
Referee: Ken Imbusch (IRFU)