Ballina RFC 38 – Sligo RFC 10
Sligo Development Team went down fighting in the local derby against J1A table-toppers Ballina RFC. It was an early start to a Sunday morning, with an 11a.m. kick-off. The pitch conditions reflected the effects of the heavy rains from the previous 24 hours, but the Ballina grounds had no lying water and the referee deemed the pitch playable. From the whistle, it was obvious that there would be a high count on handling errors, but it was Ballina who adjusted best to the conditions and they were 14-3 ahead after 25 minutes. Sligo piled on the pressure but failed to capitalise on their possession and it was Ballina who added to their tally again just before half-time, bringing the score to 19-3.
The home-side were quick to extend their lead in the second half with an intercept try in the opening minute. Scrummaging was proving difficult as the conditions on the muddy pitch continued to deteriorate but it was Sligo who best adapted to this and Ballina were penalised for their many infringements around the scrum. The away-side stuck to their game plan of pushing up in defence and this tactic finally paid off, with a spectacular intercept try by Matt Kavanagh from within his own 22, which was duly converted by the trusty boot of Niall Gray. However, the many handling errors on both sides continued to mar any hope of a free-flowing game and possession flitted from one side to the other. Ballina continued to drive forward and despite the heroic tackling of Sligo’s Charlie Cooper and Mattie Davey, the home side added a further two tries in the closing minutes of the game, to bring the final score to 38-10. It was a tough learning curve for the young Sligo side, who will undoubtedly improve on today, intent on providing a more consistent 80 minute performance in future games. They remain third in the league and travel to Galwegians next Sunday to try and cement their position above Buccaneers in the J1A Connacht League.
Sligo: Craig Adams, Ross O’ Boyle, Aaron Tansey, Liam Mc Elhinney, James Mc Guinness, Christian Neilsen, Ross Hickey, Mattie Davey, Jake Sexton, Enda Gavin, Niall Gray, Matt Kavanagh, Charlie Cooper, Sean Mullin, Niall O’Hara, Stewart O’Brien, Hugh Kinsbyugh Hu