Ballyclare Rugby Club Notes: LATE CLARE SCORE TAKES TEAM TOP OF TABLE: Report + Pictures

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Last Saturday in Section 2 of the Kukri League the top four teams were playing each other and the results brought a big change in the table. At the Cloughan Ballyclare originally in third place took on a strong Omagh team who were in second spot in a game sponsored by Coogan Architects. On the day it was really the veritable game of two halves with the Clare totally dominant in the first half but the Tyrone men had a go in the second period and took a narrow lead only to be squeezed out at the end and to be fair the home side did manage four tries to pick up yet another bonus point.. Meanwhile up at Coleraine the U.U.C. had a convincing win over Enniskillen who started the day as leaders-so the Students amazingly remain as the only unbeaten side in the league.
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Ballyclare had Finlay and McKinstry back in the pack for this vital league game played in cold conditions at the Cloughan. At the start the visitors did make ground into the home 22 for a rare attack but the threat was ended as Nial Lawther cleared to half way.The Clare men took up the initiative with a typical surge upfield by Jackson leading to Omagh being caught off side and Collie Morrow slotted the kick to lead 3-0. Then Lawther broke to the opposite 22 but Ward cleared only to see the Clare winger Baird make ground down the right and Clotworthy followed up to go over for the try that was not converted. Another Clotworthy run took the Clare deep into Omagh territory and Jackson made more ground only for a couple of errors by the home side which allowed Omagh to attempt to clear. But the pacey Weatherup was up on his man and charged down the clearance and then gathered the ball to dive over for try which was converted by Morrow to go 15-0 ahead. But the Tyrone side countered by getting into the home 22 only for the second time and were fortunate to get a penalty kicked by the accurate Ward to reduce the Clare lead.The home pack with Logan,Coburn and McKinstry going well in the loose,drove deep only to see Omagh being awarded with another penalty but this time Ward was just wide from distance.Good work in the loose by Boyd led to a Clare penalty but Morrow was off target from a useful position so it remained at 15-3 on the half time whistle.Ballyclare had been well on top in the first half and Omagh had not posed a threat but things were to change.
An early Omagh attack was stopped by a tackle from Logan and Morrow managed to clear.But the visitors kivked to the Clare 22 and then ran a short penalty with the left wing going over for a try converted by Ward to reduce the home lead to 15-10.Though Lawther managed to clear from a kick ahead by Omagh the Tyrone side were now making inroads in the loose but a counter attacking run from Lawther was followed up by Clotworthy who raced in on the right for a fine score but again Morrow was unable to convert so it was now 20-10. Within a few minutes the Omagh pack forced another penalty which was kicked by Ward. Three minutes later he repeated the process despite the fact that his team had lost a back row forward to the sin bin which made it 20-16. Ballyclare were now defending on their own 22 another Omagh penalty was taken as a tap ending in a try which of course was converted by the reliable Ward. This gave them the lead for the first time and at this stage they seemed to have done enough. Ballyclare had been under pressure for some time in the second half but into the closing minutes a breakout by centre and man of the match Clotworthy took him deep inside the Omagh 22 and up in support was fly half Lawther to go over on the right for a try that Morrow could not convert. Willie Logan`s men had squeezed out a narrow win by 25-23 and of course the added bonus point took the Clare into joint leadedrship of Qualifying 2 with a break until 14th Jan. when Enniskillen willbe visitors to the Cloughan. Up front the scrums were very secure and lineouts saw good takes by Logan. Behind the scrum Lawther was alertly looking for openings while Jackson and Clotworthy always made ground in mid field.
Coburn,W.Logan (capt),G.Weatherup.
The only other game due on Saturday was the McCambley Cup tie for the Fourths v Armoy at home but this was called off due to wet grounds and should be played this week end.
Sat.Fixtures–2nd XV v Clogher Valley 2nds (away) Crawford Cup; 3rd XV v Liburn 3rds (home) Cup; 4th Xv v Armoy (home) McCambley Cup.

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