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Last Updated: Friday, 1 April, 2005, 20:25 GMT 21:25 UK
Ballymena 22-20 Belfast H'quins
Bryan Young lifts the cup for the second successive season
Ballymena skipper Bryan Young with the Ulster Senior Cup
Ballymena claimed their third successive First Trust Senior Cup despite a brave second half comeback by Belfast Harlequins.

Tries from Richard Kernohan and skipper Bryan Young helped the holders to a 15-3 lead at the interval.

Andrew Trimble then added a superb solo try in the 49th minute for Ballymena.

However, converted Quins tries from Keith Pyper and Paul McKenzie plus a John Anderson penalty had Ballymena hanging on at the finish.

Quins had broken early Ballymena initiative to take the lead in the eighth minute when Ian Humphreys tapped over a penalty in front of the posts.

However, Ballymena took over the lead in the 11th minute when the lively Kernohan barged over from a line-out.

After missing two simple chances, Dirkie Strydom finally found his range from close-in to knock over an easy penalty in the 32nd minute after Quins struggled to hold off another Ballymena forward surge.

It was no surprise when the Braidmen pushed out their advantage with another forward-orientated score on the run-up to half-time when prop Young bulldozed his way over with Strydom adding the conversion.

Ballymena team in good mood after their 22-20 win over Quins
The victorious Ballymena team celebrate at Ravenhill

With Quins continuing to shoot blanks on the resumption, risiing star Trimble stretched Ballymena's lead when he picked up a looses ball, showed great strength to burst through two tackles and a fine side-step took him in under the posts.

With Strydom converting and Humphreys having to leave the field with an arm injury, Quins looked to have little chance of coming back.

But they shocked Ballymena in the 53rd minute when Humphreys's replacement Pyper danced through some weak tackling to score under the pots with John Anderson adding the extra points to pull Quins back to 22-10.

That sparked a previously unseen will to win into the Quins outfit and a turnover at a five-metre scrum allowed centre McKenzie to zip over in the 67th minute.

Anderson again converted and then added a 74th minute penalty to make it a two-point game but Ballymena held out to give coach Steph Nel his first trophy in charge of the Eaton Park side.

Ballymena: M Waterhouse; J Topping, A Trimble, J McGruggen, M Humphreys; D Strydom, A Monson; B Young, R Kernohan, W McAllister, H Head, R Young, A Graham, J Taggart, M McComish.
Replacements: D O'Hara for Manson (60), I Campbell for Kernohan (60), A Kirkpatrick for McAllister (55), I Caldwell for Taggart (60).

Belfast Harlequins: J Lowe; M Kettyle, P McKenzie, G Mitchell, J Anderson; I Humphreys, A Matchett; J Carey, R Best, D Fitzpatrick, D Barbour, M Graham, N Hanna, C Atkinson, C McCarey.
Replacements: C Keown for Carey (53), J Andress for Fitaptrick (56), A Gillespie for Hanna (74), D Dougherty for Atkinson (31), K Pyper for Humphreys (50).

Referee: Marshall Kilgore.

Ballymena retain senior cup
24 Apr 04 |  Irish

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