3rd XV win exciting Forster Plate Qtr Final against Ballymoney 3rd XV

Saturday afternoon saw Instonians 3rd XV return to cup action welcoming Ballymoney 3rd XV to Shawsbridge to contest the Quarter Final of the Forster Plate competition.

Following some heavy rain during the week which continued through until Saturday morning, the pitch was in relatively good condition, and firm under foot. The wind was light and provided little advantage to either team.

It was Ballymoney who made the brighter start taking the game to Instonians, using their strong runners around the fringes in an attempt to soften the home team’s defence. This approach appeared to rattle Instonians who, feeling the pressure conceded several penalties, which eventually led to a yellow card being shown surprisingly early in the game.

With the extra man, and the initiative, the visitors continued to pressurise, and were rewarded with the opening try of the match following some continued good work around the fringes. With the conversion successful Ballymoney took an early lead 0-7.

The Instonians response was immediate as they worked hard to retain and recycle possession from the kick-off, through backs and forwards, driving play up field, retaining possession and putting some useful patterns together. With Ballymoney back pedalling, Instonians were awarded a number of penalties which they chose to take quickly. From one such quick tap, Joe Murphy forced his way over for the home team’s first score of the match. With the conversion drifting wide the score moved to 5-7.

From the restart Instonians continued to play with intensity, as first Darryl Smith linked well with Matthew Austin to break the defensive gain line. Continuing the movement a ‘youthful’ Gavin Oakes running a great support line, attempted a Jacob Stockdale type ‘chip and chase’ from twenty five meters out, despite Oaksey’s best efforts, his legs had the last words; ‘Not any more Gav’. Although Ballymoney appeared to steel back possession, the Instonians pressure forced a penalty, which was again taken quickly and moved to the right where Robbie Kirk, on his return from injury, broke through the defence to score close to the posts, leaving a simple conversion to take Instonians into a 12-7 lead.

The theme continued as Instonians ramped up the pressure which led to a prolonged period of possession and territorial advantage. Once again the key was ball retention and the intensity of play which had Ballymoney scrambling to defend their line. The pressure once again told as Darryl Smith was on hand to carry a popped ball, crashing over the line to score Instonians third try of the match. The successful conversion extended the home team’s advantage to 19-7.

As half time edged closer Ballymoney appeared to find another gear. With Instonians appearing to stand-off, the visitors once again attacked around the fringes, and in midfield. This sustained pressure forced Instonians into conceding several penalties, which allowed Ballymoney to move play into the home team’s defensive area of the pitch. From a lineout close to the Instonians line, Ballymoney used their rolling maul effectively to drive over scoring their second try of the match. With the conversion successful the score at half time moved to 19-14.

Half Time 19-14

The opening exchanges to the second half were evenly matched with both teams enjoying periods of possession. Worryingly indiscipline was once again creeping into the Instonians game, which handed momentum back to Ballymoney, who took full advantage, pressing the home team back into their own twenty two meter area for large parts of third quarter of the match. Thankfully the Instonians defence held firm as they managed to repel each of these Ballymoney attacks.

The game began to swing back to the home team’s advantage as they once again chose to retain possession rather than kick the ball away. This tactic eventually paid off as following a number of phases, Instonians executed an overlap out wide sending Lewis Bodel scampering over for Instonians fourth try of the match. The bragging rights are now even in the Bodel household following younger brother Finlay’s score in last weekend’s match. It was however, reported that Finlay was heard shouting ‘Drop it’ from the touch line, as the ball was passed to Lewis. As yet these reports are unconfirmed. Once again the conversion drifted wide as Instonians moved the score line to 24-14.

With daylight between the two teams, Ballymoney were chasing the game and began to take the game to Instonians, with some impressive play between forwards and backs. The pressure eventually told as the home team conceded a converted try leaving the score 24-21 to the home team moving into the closing stages of the match.

Instonians showed great maturity in the remaining minutes of the match, pinning Ballymoney back into their defence area of the pitch and defending well when not in possession to eventually close out the game.

The final whistle blew with the home team coming out on top with the final score 24-21.

This was a traditional old fashioned cup match, full of commitment from both teams, who endeavoured to play open and attractive rugby from start to finish. As a result the game was fairly evenly matched throughout.

Thank you to Ballymoney 3’s for making the journey and for the sprit in which the game as played.

Thank you also to the referee who’s contribution led to a match which was enjoyable for all involved.

Thanks also to the ref who offered the Instonians official the use of a shinny Ulster Branch touch judge’s flag, this offer was much appreciated, however, as was pointed out, we at Instonians 3’s have a selection of flags at our disposal. #flag-gate

The 3’s now progress to the semi-final of the Forster Plate where they await news as to their opposition. Saturday’s performance was a great effort for the squad 1-18 who showed real passion and commitment and an ability to play quality rugby against a tough opposition. If the same efforts are shown in the next round, this squad has a real chance of progressing further.


Saturday’s Squad 1 to 18: Peadair Meenan (C), Dan Lindsey, Thomas Dowling, Ryan Hickland, Darryl Smith, Rab Brown, Matt Austin, Aaron Davis, Gavin Oakes, Ashley Black, Lewis Bodel, Robbie Kirk, Joe Murphy, Jerome Hannon, Scott Croft, John Carser, Robb Barnes, Nathaniel Johnston