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Ballyclare High School 1st XV following the memorable unbeaten tour in the summer to New Zealand have made a good start to the new schools rugby season and last week recorded a 24-5 win over one of this year`s Schools Cup favourites Campbell College. The previous week-end Ballyclare had a fine 29-7 win over B.R.A.
Last saturday to be fair Campbell College were missing more than half of their team who were away with the Ulster Schools side in one of the Inter-Pro matches.
Despite being weakened it was Campbell who controlled much of the early play but the High School took a 3-0 lead from a penalty by Jonny Holmes. Strong play by the Campbell pack led to a deserved try for a 5-3 lead .But the Clare boys hit back when Holmes broke clear and Paddy Hamill crashed over for atry which was converted by Holmes to make it 10-5.
In the second half Ballyclare`s pack began to dominate more and won more ball. This enabled wing-forward Paddy Reid to break clear for a try converted by Holmes and increase the home lead. Before the finish Out-half Holmes cut through the Campbell defence to get a try and convert which left it 24-5 to Ballyclare at full-time. This was a good performance particularly in the second half by the Clare boys.
Ballyclare high 2nds won 15-5 and the 4ths won 22-5 but the junior sides suffered heavy defeats by Campbell College
On Wednesday at Hillmount Avenue Ballyclare High continued the strong start to the season with a narrow but superb win over Methodist College. In good weather conditions it was the visitors who pressed from the kick-off but Holmes cleared well. Ballyclare countered as the pack made ground and Peter Ferguson broke clear to get the opening try which was converted by Holmes for a 7-0 lead. More strong and agressive play by the home forwards forced the visitors behind their own twenty-two and from a short lineout Marc Logan drove over to score near the corner and make it 12-0. This appeared to rouse the Belfast side and they hit back with a deserved try. Just before the interval Methody broke clear again to get a score in the corner to narrow the home lead to 12-10.
Early in the second half a surge upfield by Jonny Darling took the Clare boys into a good position and a break and dummy pass by Holmes at fly-half brought him a deserved try which he converted to put his team 19-10 ahead. Further good work by the home pack led to a break out and Mitchell McComb raced over to score with the reliable Holmes adding the points to give the Clare lads a 26-10 lead.
But Methody were far from finished and as Ballyclare seemed to tire the visitors got a try in the corner.They finished strongly and forced another late try not converted to cut the home lead to 26-20.Ballyclare held out for the few remaining minutes to claim a long awaited victory over the school which has probably the best record in Ulster Schools Cup rugby. This was a great win for Ballyclare who were cheered on by a big home crowd.

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