Ballynahinch U-16s charge into cup final

Ballynahinch U-16s charge into cup final

24 April 2019

BALLYMACARN Park was bathed in sunshine as the talented ‘Hinch U-16 squad battled with Virginia for a place in the showpiece Ulster Carpets Cup final at Kingspan Stadium. 

Despite the heat, both sides put on an excellent display of running rugby in an entertaining encounter with Virginia drawing first blood, taking advantage of an uncharacteristically passive ‘Hinch defence to score from deep with their first attack. 

‘Hinch began to work their patterns and took the lead with a typically powerful carry and score from Morgan Croskery and a fine finish from Jojo Naga.

Virginia battled back and spent the final minutes before half time battering the ‘Hinch line.

Fine close quarter defence enabled the home side to clear their lines but more sloppy defending from the backs allowed Virginia to gain territory and they scored to leave the tie evenly poised at 10-all.

During the half-time break the ‘Hinch coaches asked for more urgency in defence and better ball protection in attack and were rewarded with a superb 20 minutes of rugby from their side. 

A line out move was executed perfectly for Matthew Torney to pop up a short pass for a charging Croskery to steam onto the ball and over the line untouched. 

The home forwards then bullied their opponents in consecutive mauls and Torney used all his power to help himself to a typical close-range score as the Virginia forwards tired. 

Any thoughts of a comeback were derailed by much improved line speed in defence as Cameron Patterson led the line superbly, driving his man back behind the gain line repeatedly and galvanising his team. 

James McMaster and Luke Braithwaite were also busy, using their power to disrupt attacks and win turnovers. 

A Croskery sin-bin was easily absorbed and when Naga finished an excellent Dan Hewitt chip ahead to give his team a 17 point lead, the match was effectively over as a contest.

‘Hinch emptied their bench to give everyone some time on the pitch and the game lost a little of its intensity as it entered the final 10 minutes. 

To their credit, Virginia battled up field for a consolation score with the last move of the match to leave the final score 27-15. 

League champions, City of Armagh, await the local boys in the final on May 11 at Kingspan Stadium on what will be a great occasion for this dedicated group of players. 

Their quarter-final exit from the league play-offs did not do them justice and they have regrouped well over the past few weeks to put together an excellent cup campaign.

Hooker Harry McCarroll epitomised the work ethic on Saturday with an all-action man of the match display and senior players continue to set the standards as the season reaches a conclusion.

All support welcome on May 11.