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Bruff Make Strong Start Under New Coach Lynch

Bruff Make Strong Start Under New Coach Lynch

Bruff scored two superb tries on their way to handing out a resounding defeat to Ballymena in the opening round of Division 1B on Saturday afternoon.

It was, nevertheless, a lively affair at Kilballyowen Park where two Ballymena players and one from Bruff were shown yellow cards.

The Braidmen had the better of play early on but they forced the final pass at times and could not make use of two turnovers from scrums.

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Bruff did not take long to get going. After the visitors were penalised for going offside in the 13th minute, Brian Carroll landed his opening penalty. Shortly afterwards, Ballymena centre Tom Hughes was sin-binned for a ruck offence.

A superb break by Mark Cosgrove paved the way for the game’s first try. He cut inside before offloading to full-back Brendan Deady who, in turn, cut back inside to touch down. Carroll converted and he then potted a penalty in added time to make it 13-0 for half-time.

By this stage Bruff had earned dominance in the scrum – aided by the introductions of player-coach Cathal O'Regan and Ger Collins – and it was that platform that led to further scores in the second period.

The outcome of the match was effectively decided after 48 minutes with a brilliant individual try by centre Gary Leonard. He picked up a loose ball and raced 50 metres to touch down and make it 18-0.

The visitors struggled to respond and were not helped by a yellow card for their number 8 Stephen Mulholland, who barged in at a ruck on a frustrating afternoon for John Andrews' men.

Bruff were set to score a third try from a third close-in scrum but as they were about to drive over Ballymena flanker Adrian Hamilton kicked the ball away and the Limerick men were awarded a penalty try which Carroll converted.

Niall Martin had a late try for a disappointing Ballymena side, who got over the line with Bruff try scorer Leonard sin-binned in the 71st minute.

The Ulster outfit's extra power in the pack counted for little in the end. Deady missed out on the bonus point score when he spilled the ball with the try-line in sight.

Former Munster centre Mike Lynch is in his first few weeks as Bruff's head coach and took plenty of positives from his side's display.

“I was delighted with the intensity of our play, I would give the lads 80 out of 100 for that display. Perhaps if there had been a little more self belief they might have got the bonus point from it,” he told the Irish Examiner.

“However if, beforehand, somebody had told them they could win this game by 20 points they would have taken it. Now we will be working on the self belief bit.”

Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU)