Top of table clash goes just to plan

Top of table clash goes just to plan

30 January 2013 - by BY JOHN DICKSON

BALLYNAHINCH were delighted and extremely pleased with the way they fought back in this top of the table All-Ireland League Division 1B clash at the Wallace High School grounds in Lisburn.

The school pitch was in great condition, but the persistent drizzle was always going to make this encounter a tense one. In the opening exchanges the students from Dublin looked the more composed, their half backs Mick McLoughlin and Dave Joyce using the kick and chase game to great effect.

Out half Joyce opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a penalty for the visitors after referee John Carville reversed a ‘Hinch penalty for back chat.

The score remained at 3-0 until close to the half hour mark. Dublin University had kept their discipline as ‘Hinch infringed at the breakdown on several occasions.

Joyce missed a shot at goal in the 28th minute, but was on target three minutes later after ‘Hinch were caught using their hands in a ruck, Joyce’s efforts taking the students six points clear.

‘Hinch got their first points on the board following their first serious attack in the 34th minute after the Dubliners had strayed offside in front of their posts. Michael Lawton converted to close the gap to 6-3.

A collapsed scrum in the 37th minute allowed Joyce to put another three points on the board to take the score to 9-3. Lawton and Joyce then added a further penalty each to leave the visitors leading 12-6 at half-time.

Whatever Derek Suffern and Charlie McAleese said at interval, it had the desired effect.

The ‘Hinch started the second half like a different team. They had a much greater intensity and played with a lot more accuracy. In the 48th minute James Thompson moved the ball across the ‘Hinch back line to find Roger McBurney taking a great line.

The big full back made good ground pulling in defenders as they tried to stop him before he released the ball to Adam Craig who did extremely well to make it over in the corner for the first try of the game.

Lawton added the extras from the touchline to take the ‘Hinch into a 13-12 lead.

This score lifted them and when James Simpson smashed his way through a gap in midfield, the ‘Hinch pack poured through in the 51st minute.

Jonny Simpson took play forward and almost made the line himself, but Blane McIlroy made sure the quick ball was flashed left with McBurney on the burst under the posts to crash over for the second ‘Hinch try. Lawton added the extra two points to take ‘Hinch 20-12 clear.

The visitors hit back with a fifth Dave Joyce penalty goal in the 58th minute, closing the gap to 20-15.

A kick through and chase by Blane McIlroy in the 63rd minute ended under the Dublin posts with ‘Hinch being awarded a 5 metre scrum, but this great attacking opportunity was wasted when McIlroy was pinged for feeding crooked.

This let off visibly lifted the visitors and they quickly took play deep into the ‘Hinch half of the field where in the 65th minute a clever counterattack led by full back Dave Fanagan released winger Niyi Adeolukan, who demonstrated some skilful running as he beat a number of ‘Hinch defenders to race clear and score to tie the game at 20 points apiece. Joyce added the extras to take the visitors back into the lead 22-20.

With seven minutes remaining the ‘Hinch scrum proved too powerful for the students to handle the ‘Hinch winning a penalty, which Lawton converted to take his side back into the lead at 23-22.

‘Hinch kept control of the ball as play entered the final five minutes and with just two minutes left on the clock the students’ frustration finally gave way and Lawton converted another penalty goal to take ‘Hinch four points clear.

It was all Dublin in the final few minutes as they pressed hard for a winning score, but great work from the ‘Hinch pack secured possession at a crucial line out and they managed to clear the danger and hang on for an impressive and vital league win.

Final score: Ballynahinch 26 Dublin University 22.