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Four-Try Ballymena Overcome Students’ Challenge

Four-Try Ballymena Overcome Students’ Challenge

Second-placed Ballymena continued on the right road with a 24-12 success at home to struggling Dublin University in Ulster Bank League Division 1B.

The Eaton Park side made it three wins out of three with their new full-back Sean Taylor – the former Preston Grasshoppers and England Counties player – running in a brace of tries against the students.

Scrum half David Shanahan and winger Tim Small, both try scorers in recent weeks, also touched down for the impressive Braidmen.

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Trinity crossed the whitewash twice in the second half, including a first Ulster Bank League score for USA international winger Tim Maupin.

For a good part of the first half the hosts, who lined out without Ulster-tied back rowers Mike McComish and Clive Ross, saw very little possession.

However, the team spirit and determination to defend their line which Ballymena have shown in the past was very much on view again, and they kept out Trinity who lacked a clinical edge during their attacking forays in the first 25 minutes.

The Braidman began to assert themselves, working some decent territory for themselves, and their persistence was rewarded when good work by the pack enabled Shanahan to go over for a try which Small converted from out wide.

That was the only score of the opening half so thanks to some resolute defence and the sharpness of Shanahan, Ballymena led 7-0 at half-time.

Andy Graham's charges extended their lead shortly after the restart when an interchange of passes by Taylor and Small put the latter over for a try which he failed to convert.

At this stage the hosts were very much in control, so it was against the run of play when Dublin University capitalised on a series of Ballymena mistakes and crossed for an unconverted try.

However, the Braidmen soon restored their 12-point lead when the ball that broke from a ruck was gathered by lock Connor Smyth who offloaded beautifully for Taylor to get the first of his two tries. Small converted to make it 19-5.

Ballymena's sudden dominance of the game continued – and produced the bonus point score – with Taylor, who had a fine game throughout, finished well to complete his brace.

Trinity were competitive for the full 80 minutes, scoring tries through industrious flanker Brian du Toit and Maupin, and they almost added a third late on. Unfortunately for the students, their hunt for a losing bonus point came to an end when they spilled the ball in a promising position close to the Ballymena posts.

Number 8 Stephen Mulholland was selected as the man-of-the-match for the victors, while director of rugby Peter Mackenzie had nothing but praise for the outstanding defence by the home side.

Referee: Dave O'Flynn (IRFU)