Close but not close enough for the 3rd XV at Ballynahinch 11/11/17

With the memories of a heavy early season home defeat fresh in the memory, the 3rd XV travelled to Ballynahinch for the return league fixture.

On the back of four straight league and cup wins confidence was high going into the game; however, with several players out of position, and with several late call ups, disruption threatened to unnerve this young instonians squad

The heavy pitch dictated how the match would be played, with neither team able to dominate possession for any sustained period. Instonians playing down the slope had the better of the early exchanges using strong forward runners close the rucks to penetrate the dogged Ballynahinch defence.

As the first half progressed, clever use of the driving maul from lineouts proved to be an effective means for Instonians to retain possession and apply pressure to the Ballynahinch line. Pressure eventually told and Instonians were able to score two unconverted tries through Richard Maguire and Nick Ellerby. Ballynahinch managed to score and convert a first half try to leave the halftime score 7-10 to Ballynahinch.

The second half continued in a similar fashion to the first, with both teams trying to breach each other’s defence close to the ruck. Instonians began to use their driving maul close to the Hinch line and were rewarded with a try scored by Matthew Austin, again the conversion was unsuccessful leaving the score 7-15.

The Hinch momentum was now increasing, and through some good continuity were able to get beyond the Instonians defensive line scoring and converting their second try of the match, to leave the score 14-15.

The heavy pitch was starting to take its toll, with several players succumbing to injury and cramp, however; with a number of players now playing out of position, Instonians pushed on and following several phases of continuity the ball was recycled and moved through several sets of hands to Sam Lemon, who crashed over to score a try on his debut, again the conversion was unsuccessful and the score moved to 14-20 heading into the final stages.

Once again Ballynahinch increased the pressure on the Instonians line creating another scoring opportunity, the unsuccessful conversion left the score 19-20 

With close to five minutes to play, Ballynahinch began to exploit the disruption caused by Instonians injuries and substitutions, and managed to recycle and retain possession, creating a finishing a scoring opportunity close to the Instonians posts, the conversion left the score 26-20 to Ballynahinch

As has been the case throughout this season, this Instonians squad picked themselves up and to show great determination attacking Ballynahinch in search for the winning score. Unfortunately this week, this was not to be the case and the final whistle blew with the final score 26-20 favour of Ballynahinch.

There are a lot of positives to take from this match, including the developing spirit within our squad, and the strength and depth which has enabled us to field a full squad each week. In previous seasons this might have been a fixture which would we might not have been able to fulfil considering the club had three senior teams playing on the weekend.

With the dust having settled and on reflection, although we left with two points, we should never be content having lost. This is a match which we could and probably should have taken five points from. Continued momentum and commitment will hopefully lead to continued development and success moving into the second half of the league campaign.

Thank you to Ballynahinch for the match, and the spirit in which it was played. Both teams tried despite the conditions to play rugby and delivered an entertaining match for those watching.

Thank you also to the referee for how he controlled the game and allowed it to flow despite the heavy pitch and poor conditions.