The University of Ulster, Coleraine travelled to Ballynahinch RFC on Saturday to take on their 2nd XV in their first Conference League match. This was a game which UUC were hoping to use as a way of trying new things as well as put down a statement of intent but the score line didn’t reflect the performance of the visiting side and they made the home side work for their 43-0 victory.
It was the home side who got the game under way and immediately put the students under pressure but their defence held out and once the game got going the students started to get themselves into the game. Ballynahinch had built up a head of steam and were first to cross the line with the try being converted to make it 7-0. UUC looked to do the same in the ‘Hinch half but couldn’t find a way through or around the tight defence and were immediately on the back foot after a turn over at the ruck. The home side capitalised on this turn over and worked their way into the UUC half before going over to score again to make it 12-0.
The students were starting to show glimpses of classy rugby but were pinned back by the home defence time and time again. Great work by the student pack from a lineout resulted in Martin O’Neill making a break for the line but was held up just short. The home side regained possession and scored another try to make the half time score 19-0.
In the second half the game swung in the favour of the students. With the home side’s prop being binned for an illegal dump tackle the students started to turn the screw and starved ‘Hinch of the ball which frustrated them, giving away needless penalties. Lee Murphy kicked for the corner and the student pack done what they are best at, catch and drive but after a great catch from Michael Dunleavy, John Lutton was held up on the line. David Orr went close from the resulting scrum but spilled the ball as he went to break the defensive line.
Ballynahinch were just back to full strength when they lost their full back to the bin for a silly error at the break down but still put phases of play together and scored twice more and added both conversions. The students continued to frustrate the home side with long periods of possession but just couldn’t capitalise on their man advantage with Calum Rowden and John Dillon both trying to break free to add points to the board.
With the game coming to a close the home side added a further 3 tries and conversions to their total but still the students wanted something from the game but ‘Hinch just wouldn’t let them through. With the last play of the game Ballynahinch cut through the UUC defence and scored under the posts with a successful conversion to round of the match. The home side were victorious 43-0 but the score line certainly doesn’t reflect the rugby that was played by UUC. UUC return to colleges action this Wednesday against Athlone IT in Coleraine before making the trip down to Carrickfergus to take on Carrick RFC in the Kukri 2 league.