Ballymena give Smith a lift


THEIR new Director of Rugby, Nelie Smith, told the Ballymena team, prior to this Division One clash on Saturday that an immediate improvement was called for. And the former Springbok coach got it.

Old Crescent had an early tonic when outhalf Stephen Tuohy slotted over a sixth-minute penalty. But Ballymena won more possession at the end of the first quarter and provided one of the highlights of the first half when Dean Macartney swept in for a try following good work by the rest of the pack. McIlmoyle added the conversion.

Old Crescent maintained their composure, and Tuohy landed his second penalty in the 19th minute. McAleese, however, boosted Ballymena's confidence with a well-taken penalty in the 22nd minute.

With three minutes of the second half gone Old Crescent were caught offside and McIlmoyle thumped over the resultant penalty to put his side 13-6 up in the 55th minute, McIlmoyle drilled over a further penalty after touch-judge David McMnster had spotted some foul play.

Old Crescent continued to display admirable vigour. Ballymena were forced back inside their own territory and Tuohy slotted over his third penalty. However, clever line kicking by McIlmoyle and forceful tackling by their back row kept Ballymena on top.