Ballyclare Rugby Club Notes: I XV 17 v Armagh Rugby 20 (Pictures to follow), II XV 8 Armagh 13, III XV 15 v Donaghadee Rugby 5 & DERBY SUCCESS FOR IVs

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Ballyclare 1st XV produced a powerful performance on Saturday at the Palace Grounds against Armagh in the second round of the Towns Cup and were actually ahead with eight minutes remaining only to go down narrowly 20-17. Considering that Armagh have only lost oncethis season (to Portadown) and are one of three sides in Qualifying 1 pushing for the automatic promotion to All-Ireland 3, this was a major effort from Willie Logan`s men and in some ways they were rather unfortunate to lose as territorially they had slightly more of the play and were narrowly wide with three kicks at goal. The only changes were the return of Ian Heaneyand Darren Montgomery in the pack and Ryan Tweed moved to the back row.Paul Morrow came in at full back but changed positions early on with Gary Clotworthy who moved from centre.
In damp conditions the home side started at pace and out half Gowing put in a cross kick for his left wing who was close to being in front but collected the kick to go in for a try which was not converted. After this brief home onslaught it was the Clare side who enjoyed more of the territorial posession and had a penalty for a high tackle just wide from Clotworthy.Then Jackson and Baird made ground up the right before Armagh countered with strong runs by their second row. But Russell cleared to half way and again Jackson made ground in mid field. As the game ebbed and flowed Collie Morrow cleared from another home attack and Wylie charged down an Armagh kick. Ballyclare hit back as Weatherup raced over half way but Armagh cleared only to see Paul Morrow counter after good work in the loose by Logan,McGrugan and Coburn. Montgomery continued the move up the right and then after a kick ahead by Russell , Weatherup followed up to score near the corner and Clotworthy`s attempted conversion hit a post so it was 5-5 at half time
Early in the second half Gowing kicked a penalty to put Armagh 8-5 ahead and minutes later Clotworthy had a similar effort go just wide. Then the referee allowed a penalty to the home side to be taken a second time though the first kick had gone into touch and goal. This led to home pressure followed by a try on the right to go 13-5 up. The Clare pack countered by driving to the 22 and Russell moved the ball wide for Paul Morrow to race in at the corner and cut the home lead to 13-10.
McGrugan,Montgomery and Logan defended well as Armagh tried to come forward and a surge by McGrugan saw Baird racing into the home 22. From a penalty Clotworthy kicked to the corner and clean lineout ball by Tweed led to centre Jackson cutting back inside to beat two tackles for a try converted by Russell. This now put the Clare 17-13 ahead and a win for the Qualifying2 side looked on. But with only a few minutes left Armagh had two penalties and Gowing pushed his pack up to the Clare line and at the second attempt Morton drove over for the vital score which Gowing converted . This put Armagh 20-17 in front and in the closing three minutes Ballyclare tried to run the ball from deep but time was against them. This was a fine all round team effort by the Clare and afterwards some of the home officials said they had done well to steal the win at the finish and noted that the Clare team was capable of playing higher than Qualifying2.
Team P.Morrow; J.J.Baird,G.Clotworthy,J.Jackson,G.Weatherup; I.Russell,C.Morrow; D.Montgomery,A.Wylie,C.Coburn;I.Heaney,R.Boyd;A..McGrugan,W.Logan(capt),R.Tweed.
The Clare Seconds in Junior 1 continue on a rather disappointing run of results and went down 13-8 at home to Armagh2nds. They had a fairly good first half but Armagh led 3-0 from an early penalty. Then Chris Gillan kicked a penalty to level the scores and he later broke through to score at the posts only to miss the conversion.This gave the Seconds an 8-3 interval lead but in the second they lost prop Paul Williamson and then had Kyle Norton sin binned. The visitors forced a converted try and later addad a penalty to lead 13-8. Ballyclare were forced to defend and were under pressure being short of men but there were sound performances by Byers,Loughlin and Reid in the backs and Norton and Boyd in the pack.
The Thirds led by Tony Turner played Donaghadee 2nds at home on Friday night under the floodlights in very poor weather conditions . They did avenge a heavy away defeat when the Dee fielded several of their 1st XV against the Thirds. In the first half the Thirds played into the wind and rain but managed the conditions well as Phil Moan and Stevie Crawford were outstanding.gareth Byers broke from a scrum and nipped over for a try near the cornerto edge 5-0 up. They defended well as Colin Todd showed up well while Ricky McAdam and David Crawford lackled strongly in mid field. In the second half they controlled play and a break by Andrew Alexander put McAdam in for the second try. Then from aruck Jordan Campbell broke clear to get the next try for a 15-0 lead. The team lost Todd injured but though the Dee got a late score the Thirds held on for a well deserved 15-5 victory.There were fine performances by Moan,Alexander and Baillie.
The Fourths claimed the points from Bangor in their recent loss and were awarded them so now have only the sole loss to Ballymena 5ths in the League and still must play the Blacks at the Cloughan. They have also been drawn against the same team at home in the McCambley Cup quarter final on 19th February. On Saturday past the Fourths entertained local rivals Carrick 4ths and made up for the mid week loss at Eaton Park with a comprehensive 65-0 win . A big feature was a very rare drop goal by Nial Lamont using a brand new pair of boots! For the record the tries came from skipper John Wasson (2), Neil Reynolds,Cavan Watson (2),Mark Fox (2),Gareth Smith (2) and Harry Gaston with Wasson kicking 6conversions.
SATURDAY FIXTURES– 1st XV v Lisburn (home) Team again to aim for win plus bonus point (at least 4 tries). There will be a pre match Lunch– contact Ian Morrow or Pat McCudden. 2nd XV v Instonians 3rds (away); 3rdXV v Grosvenor 2nds (away); 4th Xv v Ballynahinch 6ths (home).

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