Clare lose out at windy Shaw’s Bridge.
Ballyclare lost out to Instonians at Shaw’s Bridge in a scrappy game played in difficult conditions. The strong wind proved a decisive factor with Instonians making better use of the wind advantage in the second half.
Ballyclare kicked off the first half with the wind on their backs. With the conditions dictating, Ballyclare attempted to keep Instonians pinned in their half by kicking deep to the corner, Inst won the resulting lineout and mauled their way out of danger. Instonians forwards progressed into the Ballyclare 22, Ballyclare conceding a penalty in front of posts, 15 metres out. The Inst out half kicked the penalty, to give Inst a 3-0 lead with no more than 5 minutes on the clock.
As the first half progressed Ballyclare continued to try and breakthrough a very organised Inst defence, with good periods of possession, but to no avail. The game was quite flat with handling errors from both sides resulting in a stop-start type of game. In the final 15 minutes of the half Instonians threatened the Ballyclare line, a last ditch covering tackle from prop David Lawther saved a certain score. Inst again attacked, Ballyclare were penalised at the ruck, with Lawther receiving a yellow card for his efforts this time. Inst kicked to the corner. Ballyclare were able to regain possession from the lineout and clear their lines. Ballyclare had territorial advantage at the closing stages of the half but could not make a breakthrough. Robert Boyd and Michael Rainey carried the ball well for Ballyclare and were ably supported at the breakdown by Logan, Robinson and Weatherup. The half ended 3-0 to Instonians and with the wind now in their advantage the second half was going to prove difficult.
Instonians, as expected, proceeded to kick to the corner at the start of the second half. Relentless work at the breakdown disrupted the Inst attack time and time again. Ballyclare conceded a penalty at distance from their line but with wind advantage the Inst 10 slotted over to go 6-0 up.
From the kick off Ballyclare were caught out when Inst returned the ball into the Clare half. The Inst open side stormed into the Clare 22 but was stopped. Inst recycled the ball and scored close to the posts. With the straightforward conversion added Instonians now had a 13-0 lead.
Inst added a penalty soon after to go 16-0 up. With about 10 mins to go a melee broke out as frustrations from both sides spilled over. A yellow card a piece was the outcome. Instonians went 21-0 up with another try as their powerful 7 broke the Clare defence. Ballyclare never gave up, following another yellow card for Instonians, Ballyclare had numerical advantage on the pitch and scored a try at the end. Inside the Inst 22, Ballyclare quickly took a penalty and centre Clotworthy broke through to score behind the posts. His drop kicked conversion was the last action of the game.
The disappointing result concluded the first half of Ballyclare’s Qualifying league programme. Conference league games away to Ballynahinch 2’s on the 19th December and home against Harlequins 2’s on Boxing Day end the year’s activity. A game against Ballymena 2’s, away, on 2nd January in the first round of the Towns Cup starts 2016. The first league game, home against Instonians is on 9th January. Ballyclare currently in 4th place in the league, with five wins from nine starts, and will look to press on for a top four finish in 2016.
At the Cloughan, Ballyclare’s 4th XV overcame the elements and a strong challenge from Lurgan 2’s. Through trys from Chris Jones and Paul Sempy, with a conversion from John Wasson they ran out 12-7 winners. A historic event in Ballyclare rugby takes place next week when, due to Ulster Rugby restructuring of leagues, Ballyclare 3’s play Ballyclare 4’s in a league fixture. “Home” advantage with the 3rd XV for this one. The return fixture will be played at Easter.
Ballyclare 2nd XV Crawford Cup game away to Omagh was again postponed due to waterlogged pitches in Tyrone. This match will again be attempted to be played this week with the venue switched to Ballyclare.
Ballyclare 1st XV 1-15; D Lawther, D Chambers, A Boyd, R Boyd, W Logan, P Robinson, G Weatherup, M Rainey, A Watson, N Lawther, JJ Baird, S Cusick, G Clotworthy, A Butler, G Byers.
Replacements; R Scott, R Tweed