Although Ballymena lost out 28-21 to Old Belvedere on Saturday, the Braidmen’s head coach John Andrews took many positives out of the match but insisted that his side will need to get five points when the sides meet again at Eaton Park in January..
A disappointing first half display saw Ballymena concede three tries to a strong Belvo outfit whose dynamic back-line, marshalled by Leinster duo Fergus McFadden and Chris Keane, regularly exposed gaps in the Ballymena defence and scored three tries before the interval.
A comeback looked to be on the cards in the second half when Ballymena, using the difficult conditions at Anglesea Road to their advantage, pressurised their opponents and managed to score two deserved tries.
However, it was simply not enough and with McFadden on target with two penalty attempts in the second half, the visitors never got close enough to turn the game around and a losing bonus point was the best they could get in the end.
Speaking to IrishRugby.ie after the game, Ballymena coach John Andrews said: “We targeted going down here and coming away with the minimum of a point.
“I think you have to do that against your main contenders and stop them getting a bonus point.
“So we achieved our minimum target and when we play them back up in Ballymena we have to ensure we get all five points.”
Unfortunately for Andrews, it seemed that Ballymena had their tactics wrong in the first half. They opted to kick most of their possession, giving opportunities to the likes of McFadden and in-form winger David Mongan who rightly punished them.
“I thought when the opportunities did arise we did try and play a bit and scored the first try by moving the ball but I think it came down to the fact that we kicked too early.
“We were kicking off second and third phase when I would have liked to see the team go through another couple of phases and then maybe kick if nothing was on,” he added.
Overall, Andrews saw the performance as an improvement on last week’s home defeat to Bucaneers, but his young side will need to go back to the training ground and eradicate basic errors which were constantly creeping into their game.
“There’s a lot of new faces in that team and every performance has gotten better over the last few weeks.
“A couple of wins to start with and two defeats now, both defeats have been improvements on our performance but we’re still making some basic mistakes that cost us dearly at times and we saw that again today, especially in the first half.”
Ballymena will be back on home soil at Eaton Park next Saturday, albeit with the tough task of overcoming Division 1B rivals Young Munster in the third round of the AIB Cup.
Click here for a full Old Belvedere v Ballymena match report.