Centre Callum Patterson made it three tries in two Division 1B games as his brace helped Ballymena see off Dolphin’s challenge 37-10 at Irish Independent Park.
Leading 10-3 early in the second half, Dolphin were left stunned as Ballymena went up through the gears to register 34 unanswered points. The Dolphin pack had forced a penalty try before the break with Cian McGovern kicking their other points.
But Ritchie McMaster and new scrum half John Creighton pulled the strings at half-back as Ballymena went on to dominate. Their five tries were shared out by backs Jordan Foster, Rodger McBurney, Glen Baillie and Callum Patterson (2).
Notably, former Ulster and Ireland prop Bryan Young started at hooker for the visitors, with Ulster U-20 captain Adam McBurney and James Taggart both unavailable, while Munster's returning scrum half Tomas O'Leary, another ex-international, got some game-time as a starter for Dolphin.
The opening half was a pretty dour affair with both sides testing each other out but not achieving a great deal. Despite the visitors looking the better side, their discipline let them down at times. They had two men in the sin-bin when they pulled down an advancing Dolphin maul and coughed up a penalty try which cancelled out an earlier McMaster penalty.
The Corkmen added to their 7-3 interval lead with a McGovern penalty, but there was not stopping Ballymena after that as they took complete control of proceedings, playing a brand of fast open rugby that the home side struggled to contain.
McMaster converted a penalty to reduce the arrears to 10-6, and the Braidmen then set about scoring a valuable bonus point via five well-worked tries from their backs division.
Right winger Foster got the first of them after some good handling by the backs, and then full-back McBurney (pictured above) made a threatening run from deep to set up Baillie, who was playing at inside centre, to cross the whitewash.
McMaster failed to convert both of those tries, but he was added the extras to the next score by Patterson, who charged down a poor clearance and won the race for the touchdown. That made it 23-10 in favour of a Ballymena team who, by this time, had the measure of a static Dolphin side.
Another great counter attack from McBurney, off a poor Dolphin 22-metre drop out, put Patterson through to complete his brace. McMaster's successful conversion established a 30-10 lead which a tiring Dolphin outfit was never going to challenge.
Their resistance appeared to have folded completely when McBurney, who caused the hosts problems all day, fielded a loose clearance and shimmied his way through a bewildered defence for Ballymena's fifth and final try.
Ballymena boss Andy Graham will have been pleased with the pace and skill shown by his charges as they raced clear of Dolphin on the scoreboard. Their efforts have them second in the Division 1B standings, just behind Old Wesley on scoring difference. Meanwhile, bottom-placed Dolphin will have to regroup quickly for next weekend's trip to UL Bohemians.
Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU)