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The Black Knights kicked off their league campaign with a narrow 17-15 defeat against a young ,fit and well drilled Malone side.
So young and enthusiastic were the Malone team that prior to the match Ards inadvertently thought they’d walked onto the wrong pitch and interrupted the Malone 1st xv warm up !!
Not withstanding the age gap this was a good performance for the 4ths in their first run out of the season as they led 0-15 right up until the last ten minutes.
From kick off , the dominance of the ards forwards was obvious and they controlled the set piece throughout. Ards continually pressuried the Malone line and were very unlucky not to score through john mccartney (making his debut for Ards ) and cyril stocker. Unfortunately the only points garnered from this pressure was a Stevie bell penalty and this was to be a telling factor in the result.
On the stroke of half time however ards scored a well worked try when good work by neil forbes in the lineout set up a strong mauling position and gary presho drove over.
The second half started much like the first with Ards dominant in the set piece and Malone trying to spread the ball wide to tire the ards warhorses. A feature in the second half were some strong ball carries from young Ben Smith (the only player on the ards team under 35!!). Ben is a product of the Gerry Flynn coached , Strangford College team and looks a great prospect.
Halfway through the second period the ards forwards had a strong drive into the Malone 22 and from the resultant ruck and some slick handling by the backs , gordy mcbride dived in to score under the posts.the conversion by Stevie bell put ards in a 0 15 lead and with 12 minutes to go Malone looked dead and buried.
Unfortunately the heat had taken its toll on the ards veterans and the forwards resembled a scene from Napoleans retreat from Moscow . Malone decided to run everything and scored 3 quick tries, (the third from their own line on the last play of the match) and won by the skin of their teeth 17 -15
All in all however a good first outing for the 4ths with a number of key players still to return from their summer break. It was also pleasing to note that even in the heat of the match captain rab irwin and stephen bell had time to enjoy a heated debate on the differences between backs and forwards .thankfully manager neil workman has been able to secure the services of tony blair to mediate before the next match.

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