Ballynahinch have started to find their feet in Division 1A and will certainly take a lot of confidence from their impressive 14-10 victory over high-flying Lansdowne at Ballymacarn Park on Saturday.
Having played into the wind in the first half, the County Down side managed to prevent Lansdowne form scoring in the first 40 minutes.
Ballynahinch followed up by running in two converted tries in the second period – both scored by full-back Rodger McBurney – in reply to a Ron Boucher converted try and Scott Deasy penalty.
‘Hinch head coach Derek Suffern was delighted with his squad’s effort, saying afterwards: “We are really happy with that game, we are really proud of the boys. It was a big week for us, and a big game for us.
“It was the last game of a block of four, and at home, so we really felt we needed to win this one to put ourselves in a reasonable place after four (games).
“The boys’ attitude all week was superb, and I suppose we put a lot into action today that we had not managed to do in the other games thus far, so from that point of view we are ecstatic with the victory.”
Ballynahinch preserved their top flight status with a play-off win over Buccaneers last May, having begun the season with five successive defeats. Contrast that with a played four, won two record this term.
Suffern believes they are a much more resilient side now, adding: “I think at this stage last year, a game like that when Lansdowne came back and got a score, then a penalty to go ahead we may have actually folded, or not so much folded…we would have still fought on, but may not have had the composure to get over the line.
“I think today we showed a lot of composure, a lot of trust in each other, trust and belief in what we are trying to do, and eventually got over the line with that.
“We have spoken about that trust – if we can get ourselves above four or five phases in any division we back ourselves to score some tries against anyone.
“From my point of view, I think the first half epitomised the performance – to nil them playing into that wind was a great achievement, granted they missed a few kickable penalties, but I have to say our defence was very good in the first half.”
With key backs Stuart McCloskey and Ross Adair ( the club’s top try scorer this season with three so far) both ruled out due to provincial commitments this week, Rodger McBurney returned to play a leading role for Ballynahinch.
Having missed the first three league games through injury, McBurney was delighted to play his part in the victory which was sealed by his own 73rd minute try.
“It was a good performance, a good all-round team performance. We were against that wind in the first half and everyone stuck together, we knew what we had to do and kept them to 0-0 at half-time,” he explained.
“In the second half we had a bit of wind which did ease off quite a bit, but again we knew what we had to do and made the most of it.
“We felt some of the (refereeing) decisions in the first half were a wee bit harsh, so we kept our game very simple and kept working our way up-field. I managed to get across the line for a couple and even had a shot at a drop goal – it was from halfway, but it was worth a pop!”
The result has moved Ballynahinch up to sixth overall, just a point behind fourth-placed UCD. McBurney is already relishing the next run of matches – starting with a home clash with St. Mary’s College on Saturday, November 1.
“I think last year we lacked experience of the league at this level, it is very different from Division 1B. This year we have that experience, now we know exactly what we have to do.
“With the great end we had to last season, we have managed to carry that into the start of this season, so with the experience now gained we’ll be determined to build momentum and progress up the table. I’m really looking forward to it.”