Ballina RFC 35 – Sligo RFC 24
The local derby was always going to be a tough game and this 9 try thriller was no exception. Sligo RFC, winners of Division 2C in the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League last year, were missing several key players from their starting 15 and newly-promoted Ballina RFC were keen to prove themselves in the first game of the senior league.
It was a bruising encounter for both sides, with Sligo dominating in the scrum, but failing to make the most of their possession. Ballina opened the scoring in the first ten minutes and seemed the hungrier at the start of the game. Winger Phillip Carter touched down in the corner after a period of possession for the away side, but Niall Gray was unable to slot over the difficult conversion. Ballina crossed the whitewash again on the 35minute mark to bring the score to 14-5 at halftime.
The second half produced another 6 tries between the two teams. Phillip Carter again dotted down in the corner, with Gray converting from a difficult angle, but then Ballina scored and converted two quick tries in succession, giving the home side a 28-12 lead. The visitors hit back with a Calum Goddard try in the corner, but a strong crosswind pushed Gray’s conversion across the face of the posts.
Sligo had a strong period for a further 10 minutes, but an errant call led to a Ballina turnover and their 5th try, much to the dismay of the large travelling crowd. With only minutes remaining in the match, a determined Sean Mullin broke through the Ballina defence to put another 5points on the board for Sligo and again reduce the margin, but that was the last score before the final whistle sounded, and Ballina had their first win at senior level.
Sligo RFC 1st XV are back in action next Saturday 25th August at 2.30pm in Hamilton Park when they take on Galwegians in the second game of the Connacht Senior League. A reminder to all supporters that the Warriors Run also takes place in Strandhill next Saturday afternoon and traffic restrictions will be in place, reducing the amount of available parking around the club. We would encourage supporters to get to the club early and to avail of the extra scheduled buses to and from Strandhill. Check out The Warrior’s Festival Facebook page for the bus schedule from Bus Eireann.