U16's overcome conditions to defeat Ballyclare
By Philip Johnston
This week’s U16s Ulster Carpets league fixture found Malone at a wet, windy and cold Gibson park (I’m beginning to think there is no other weather where rugby is concerned) playing host to a travelling Ballyclare.
Confidence was high as the previous meeting between the two teams resulted in a comfortable 41-14 win for Malone, but that was soon to change as the coaches had to think on their feet due to some last minute team changes!
All seemed back on track then disaster struck again! Deputy interim assistant coach Gary Crawford was unable to get the bacon baps! The air was thick with dread as the vital pre match ritual couldn’t go ahead, however after some much needed warm up drills the game was ready to start.
From the off, mainly thanks to the weather, it was clear this game wasn’t going to be our usual fast paced affair but more of a wet, muddy slog where everyone’s (theoretically everyone… but we’ll see) going to get their hands dirty forward type of contest!
After 7 mins Finn Rogers crossed the line and with a conversion by Miles (no distance puns this week as last week’s were considered too weak). So we were 7-0 to the good.
After what seemed an age (but 13 mins, 26.3 seconds to be precise) Sam Green crossed the line to score from a driving maul - conversion missed by miles (the person not the distance the kick was only out by mere inches… Right Lloyd, enough with the distance jokes… they really aren’t going very far).
And so, we were 12-0 up, and after some excellent tackling by Eoin and quick thinking by James we were on the attack again and coupled with some persistent running, Finn Rogers crossed the line again. Conversion again missed, we finished at half time 17 - 0!
The start of the 2nd half saw Head coach Nathan disappearing again (why, you may ask… IRFU concussion protocols meant he was unable to play, so what exactly was going to take priority over his wonderful 16’s) leaving us in the capable hands of Assistant coach William and out of favour Assistant coach Gary Crawford (it’s a cut throat business especially when you forget the butties – but with Nathan’s sudden desire to support Guinness rather than his delightful little proteges, I feel a revolution in the offing.. or at least perhaps a meaningful vote!). With the assistant coaching team came some renewed vigour and they sent on some fresh legs in the frey (no, not the Bentos tin for those of a certain age.. and the Eagle eyed among you will note that I didn’t even mention Glenn).
The new blood of Mason Spence, Patrick Lyons and Finn Doherty provided some new found energy among the whole team and after some out of hand kicking by Finn R which was followed up with a brilliant chase, Ballyclare were defending their try line again but ultimately unsuccessfully as Callum B crossed the line all under the tearful eyes of his dad (either that or he’d been chopping the onions for the burgers…)
The match was rounded of by some excellent cross field kicking by Miles into the safe hands of Patrick Lyons who crossed the line to finish the game 29 - 0 to Malone
A well-deserved congratulations to Callum Ballantine who received this week’s man of the match for some excellent jumping in the line out, tenacious tackling and strong running!
Also the coaches and I would like to say thank you for the continued support from our group of stalwart parents and excellent BBQ skills of Steve “Gordon Ramsey (without the swearing – usually)” Cox…
Let’s look forward to next week’s non-league fixture game which is away to Campbell - Ne Obliviscaris – in case anyone forgets