Late late show from Ballyclare seals bonus point win.
Dromore RFC were visitors to the Cloughan on Saturday for the Ulster Championship League 1 fixture. The match was generously sponsored by Simon Eastop and over 90 people packed the clubhouse for the pre-match reception. Ballyclare High School senior squad, who had a training session at the club beforehand, were also guests. The clubs U18 squad joined the throng on their return from playing in Armagh. Club Patron Peter Caldwell sponsored the match ball and President Alistair Lindsay the man of the match award.
Weather conditions were gloomy with a persistent drizzle, floodlights were required from early in the game. Ballyclare took an early lead with 2 well struck penalties by Robbie Reid in the first 10min. Following the restart from the second penalty, Ballyclare progressed into the Dromore half. With play on the right hand side of the pitch great vision and an even better executed cross field kick by Robbie Reid led to Ballyclare’s first try of the afternoon. From around the 10m line with players outside him Reid, spotting space behind a flat Dromore defensive line floated an inch perfect kick for left wing Michael Kirk, who timed his run to perfection, to touch down in the left corner. Reid added the conversion giving Ballyclare a 13-0 lead with a quarter of an hour gone.
Dromore got their only points of the game on 20min. From a line out on the Ballyclare 22m, the Dromore pack started to maul the ball towards the Ballyclare line. A shrill blow of the referee’s whistle surprised supporters as the referee ran between the Ballyclare posts and indicted a penalty try. Ballyclare hooker Craig Smith was shown a yellow card, adjudged to have been trying to bring down the maul, and spent 10 minutes on the side line. Conversion added it was 13-7.
Ballyclare enjoyed territorial and possession advantage for the remainder of the half with knock-ons at the final pass on a couple of occasions missing out what looked certain scores. Ballyclare also lost the influential Willie Logan with a shoulder injury midway through the first period.
Following the break with no further score added Dromore had their best period of the game. For almost 20min Ballyclare struggled to get out of their own half as Dromore lay siege to the Ballyclare line. Through a series of attacking scrums and line outs the heavier Dromore pack tried to rumble over the Clare line. Determined defence kept them out. With 15 minutes left on the clock Ballyclare finally got into Dromore territory. From a ruck inside the Dromore 22, the ball spilled out unexpectedly. Craig Smith scooped up the loose ball, found the gap and drove over the Dromore line just to the right of the posts. Reid added the conversion to put a clear gap on the scoreboard. 20-7.
The score spurred Ballyclare into life and killed any hope of Dromore getting anything out of the game. Soon after, a box kick from the back of a ruck, close to the left touchline around the 22 by Colin Morrow, was slowed in the air by a Dromore players finger tips. Robbie Reid was quickest to react pulling the ball out of the air and racing in to score in the left hand corner. Reid was unlucky with the conversion as it struck the left upright and stayed out. 25-7. Niall Lawther who was having a great game, broke the Dromore defence in what turned out to be the final play of the game. From centre of the field, Lawther snaked through a disorganised Dromore defence and was closing in on the Dromore line. A well weighted pass to support runner Dave Clarke allowed him finish the move off and touchdown in the right corner. The reliable Reid capped his man of the match performance with the conversion, as the final whistle sounded. A 32-7, bonus point win secured. Other results on the day see Ballyclare in a 4 way tie for second place in this very competitive league. Their next game is away to one of the joint second sides, Enniskillen on 17th December and as many as possible are asked to make the journey to support.
Ballyclare 1st XV 1-15; D Jones, C Smith, A Boyd, W Logan, G Bartley, R Tweed, G Weatherup, J McKinstry, C Morrow, N Lawther, S Cusick, R Reid, D Clarke, M Kirk, J Greer.
Replacements; M Coulter, R Henderson.
Ballyclare’s 2nd XV had a tough day at the Dub, where Queens 2nd XV had a 35-0 advantage at half time. Tries in the second period for Billy Wright, Chris Jones and Patrick Greer and a conversion by Gareth Byers weren’t enough as the AIL 2nd XV won 57-17.
Also playing at the Cloughan Ballyclare 3rd XV enjoyed a 30-7 win against CIYMS 3’s with tries by Goudy (2), Pyper, Montgomery and Watson. Watson also added a penalty and a conversion.
The very experienced 4th XV sealed a quarter final place in the Forster Cup with a comprehensive 74-12 victory over Dungannon 4’s.
The league win for the 3’s puts them up to 2nd in the table, just behind the undefeated 4th XV in Provincial League 5. Next week’s big match sees a top of the table clash the 4’s with “home” advantage over 3’s. A big crowd is expected for the highly anticipated game. Also at the Cloughan next week the 2‘s entertain Carrickfergus 2’s.