COLERAINE took the honours in Saturday’s local derby against Ballymoney and secured four valuable league points in the process.
It was a tightly contested affair, both sides playing with passion and determination, and the largest crowd in many years at Sandel Park was entertained from start to finish. The final result, Coleraine 24 – 10 Ballymoney, delighted the Coleraine support and marked the start of seasonal celebrations.
Speaking after the game Coleraine coach Richard Beggs said: “Today was a massive result for us after losing out to Dromore and Cooke.
“It lifts us a bit further away from danger and we will be looking to improve on that as the season goes on.
“The front row set the platform for today’s performance. Our pack took control and set the tone for the game.
“Our tackle rate was excellent and the mix of experienced players like Archie Kettyle, Stevie Patterson and Nigel Hall alongside so much younger talent worked well for us. There were seven changes in the starting line-up this week and that also helped.
“In the final analysis, I think today we wanted it a bit more than Ballymoney and that made a difference.
“Looking forward, we are starting to see some of our injured players becoming available again and we hope to see more of them coming back into the squad over the next few weeks.
“Next up is a home fixture for the first round of the Towns’ Cup against Randalstown, then back to the league away to the University the following week. We will be looking for strong performances for both matches.
“For now we are over the moon with the win against Ballymoney.”
In the Ballymoney match both sides played attacking rugby and there were scoring opportunities for both. In the end Coleraine made the most of these to secure the win.
The first half was evenly balanced, both sides having chances but also having to dig deep in defence, and at the break the score saw Coleraine holding a narrow 6-3 advantage.
Ballymoney had penalty opportunities, missing two, but James Campbell scored three points on 26 minutes. For Coleraine, captain Bokkie Carstens picked up points on 20 minutes and 32 minutes, but also put one wide.
In the second half Carstens went short with two penalties before scoring from 25metres, 17 minutes into the period.
In response Ballymoney made a terrific attack in the 22nd minute from a quick penalty in the Coleraine 22. James Clelland outstripped the defence to score under the posts and Campbell secured the conversion and the visitors took a narrow lead. Coleraine’s Russell Smyth was injured, replaced by Adam Dysart.
Just on 27 minutes Coleraine’s Stevie Patterson made a charging break deep into Ballymoney territory and the frantic defence yielded a penalty. Carstens was on target with a tricky 30 metre kick for three points. Three minutes later he was just wide from 40 metres.
Following a strong attack emanating from the Coleraine centres, another penalty attempt from 25 metres also drifted just wide.
In the final period of the game Carstens turned on the magic for two superb tries. As Coleraine attacked from the restart, the forwards secured position in the Ballymoney 22 and Carstens stormed through the defence with a clever sidestep and showed great strength as he forced through several tackles to score. He also converted.
Ballymoney were not cowed and immediately went on the offensive. Concerted forward pressure brought them within metres of the line but a knock on gave Coleraine possession and they cleared the lines.
In the dying minutes of the half Carstens was on fire again. The break came from a poorly judged kick by the visitors and it was Cartsens to outpace the defence and make the final dash for the line. The conversion was just wide.
Ballymoney again attacked but it was too late as the referee brought proceedings to a close and a final scoreline of Coleraine 24 – 10 Ballymoney. The four points for Coleraine are an important development as the league moves into the second half of the season.
On Saturday Coleraine entertain Rasharkin in the Towns’ Cup, kick-off 2.30pm. The players would appreciate your support in the first round of the competition.
Coleraine First XV: S Best, R Smyth (Dysart), M Hunter, R Gibson, W Chestnutt, K Greenlaw, A Neely, D Ramage, A Kettyle, B Carstens, N Hall, S Patterson, M Poskitt, A Barr, J Henderson. Subs: A Dysart, S Moffatt.