Ballyclare RFC Notes: TOP OF TABLE CLASH AT CLOUGHAN + III XV Win @ Banbridge RFC

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This Saturday the two top teams in Qualifying 2 will meet in the top of the table clash when Ballyclare take on Bangor with Bob Young`s team looking to avenge the win from the Co.Down side a few weeks ago. Bangor are top of the table and look to have just enough to take the title whereas the Clare are looking to see if Portadown can make it to the A.I.L. and hoping that Ards stay up in it. If that scenario happens there should be two teams going up from Qualifying 2 i.e. Bangor and Ballyclare. But the Clare will aim to give Bangor their second defeat of the season and club officials are appealing for as much support as possible for the Clare boys.Bangor have only lost once and Ballyclare twice in a very closely contested league as the season nears an end. Ballyclare will have time to have recovered from the Towns Cup final and hopefully can field a full strength team.

CLICK HERE for two albums of pictures from this game
The Clare 2nd Xv travelled to Rifle Park on Saturday to play Banbridge 3rds who prop up the bottom of Junior 1.According to coach Gareth Johnston the Seconds were always in charge with the back row dominating in the ,loose.They had an early chance from a penalty but Gillan was just wide and the home team hit back with a successful penalty to go 3-0 up.But the Clare pack soon made ground again in the loose and Kirk Johnson went in for a try that was converted by Gillan for a 7-3 lead.They kept up the pressure and forced a couple of penalties which were kicked by Gillan to increase the lead to 13-3. Ban began to come more into the game but the Clare defended well and turned defence into attack with a great forward drive from which Ian Holmes got a try converted by Gillan and it was 20-3 at half time.
The Seconds pack restarted well and were soon into the home 22 to allow Wardrop to nip in at the corner for a fine try.The forwards were now totally in charge and minutes later Wardrop went in for his second try and a later Gillan penalty gave them a 33-3 lead. Near the end a kick ahead from Wardrop led to a penalty and the scrum half broke clear to collect his hat trick of tries and Gillan added the points to take it to 40-3.This was a fine win which should take the team up to third place in Junior 1. Man of the match had to be Adam Wardrop but there was also a strong effort fro m Michael Stevenson in the pack. They still have three games to play -all at home and are hoping for a strong finish to a good season.
Ballyclare 3rds 21 Ballynahinch 20
The Thirds are not out of the relegation zone just yet in Junior 2 and with the Hinch in the top four this was always to be a tight affair The visitors had an early penalty chance but it was wide.Good play from Smyth with a kick ahead almost made a score for Baillie. The forwards kept driving and Heaney got in on the left to get a try that was converted by Baine for a 7-0 lead.Baillie then had a strong run before being tackled and when the visitors countered both Smyth and Baine made good clearances..Then Crothers and Heaney made ground and Baillie was tackled high to halt the move.The Hinch were strong in the loose and managed to kick a penalty to cut the home lead to 7-3. However the Thirds hit back and centre McComb raced in for a try that was converted by Baine to increase the lead to 14-3. The Hinch ended the half strongly but it was still the Thirds well clear.
The home team made a strong start to the second half and the veteran Crothers was held up close to the line.Next Smyth kicked deep and Turner and Baillie were held up near the opposite line.But the pacey Hinch centre managed to break out and get an unconverted try to make it 14-8.The visitors were now pressing strongly but Baillie managed to clearto the opposite 22 and a great run by McComb saw Tweed going forward and Crothers got in at the posts with Baine converting to increase the lead. Immediately the Hinch came back with a try from their scrum half thatwas converted to make it closer at 21-15. Even though the Thirds tried to run the ball from deep and despite a clearance from Baine close to the end the visitors managed to get in on the left for a try needing the conversion for the win but missed it to give Turners team a narrow 21-20 win. There were strong performances from the ageing Crothers in the back row,Heaney and Turner all in the pack plus Baillie,Smyth and McComb in the backs.
Fourths awarded points
The Clare Fourths were to play C.I.Y.M.S. 3rds in Junior 6 but the Belmont club were unable to raise a team so the Clare collect the points which will take them up into second place in the league.

Saturday Fixtures -1st XV v Bangor (home) -There will be a pre match lunch -anyone interested should contact President Willie Shaw(07883082823). The team needs a big crowd of home support for this match. Other club sides may have rearranged games which were postponed due to the snowy weather.

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