A much changed Ballyclare 1st XV went to unbeaten University of Ulster (Coleraine ) on Saturday in Qualifying 2 and suffered their first loss in several weeks.
They were missing regulars Rob Boyd,Coburn,Moore,Finlay all in the pack plus Jackson at centre but despite the enforced changes seemed to have done enough when leading well into the second half even though they had spurned chances only to leak a late try to the Students who held on for a 20-14 win. In perfect conditions on a superb playing surface it was an early interception on half way by Gary Clotworthy who raced in to get a try which was converted by Lawther to lead 7-0. The home side hit back as their big number 8 drove close to the Clare line but Lawther cleared. Then a strong run up the right by Baird looked promising only for posession to be lost. Wnen the visitors were caught off side the U.U.C. out half kicked a penalty to reduce the arrears. When Tweed was down hurt Morrow cleared as the students continued to press.But a break by Morrow made ground but he lacked support and the home team countered and it took a great tackle by Weatherup playing out of position at wing forward to prevent a try .Next the home out half was wide with a drop goal attempt and then they ran the ball out the left to get a try which was well converted from a wide angle to lead 10-7. With Logan down injured for a second time Morrow was forced to clear and Lawther was wide with a penalty from well out. On the stroke of half time the U.U.C. out half who was impressive slotted over a penalty to go well clear 13-7.
A bright re start from the Clare pack soon had the home team defending and really most of the pressure now came from the visitors. A break into the home 22 by Lawther ended with a try by Reid and Lawther converted to regain the lead 14-13. A deep kick by Lawther kept the Students on the defensive and unfortunately McKinstry knocked on when well placed and Weatherup was also held up close to the home line. The Clare forced a scrum on the line but despite dominating the previous set scrums allowed themselves to be wheeled and a great chance was gone. After a brief breakout by U.U.C. Lawther kicked deep and Baird had a strong run into the 22. Then Weatherup and Tweed made ground up the right only to kick away posession. With ten minutes left the home side got up to the Clare 22 for only the second time in the half and from a scrum broke up the right to get a try near the corner again well converted by the out half which gave them a 20-14 lead. Ballyclare had chosen the wrong options twice in the second half attempting a long range penalty instead of going for touch and vice versa on another ocassion. The U.U.C. boys held on for the win some what against the run of play in the second half–this now leaves Ballyclare with 3 wins and 3 losses in the league to date.
Ballyclare-G.Byers; J.Reid,G.Clotworthy,N.Gillan,J.J.Baird; N.Clotworthy,C.Morrow; D.Tweed,A.Wylie,A.Boyd; G.McKinstry,M.Crothers; G.Weatherup, W.Logan (capt), P.Robinson
FOURTHS KEEP WINNING
The Fourths like the other club sides did not have a league game so played a friendly at home against a useful Instonians 4th XV and in a rather lacklustre affair managed to win 22-9.
In the first half the opening try came from Mark Alexander having his first run out of the season after a break from Bruce Logan.Then centre Trevor Clarke followed up a kick to get the second and near the interval a surge from Nial Lamont gave a chance to John McDonald to go in for another try. Two of the tries were converted by John Wasson while the visitors managed to kick three penalties and it was 19-9 at half time. In a second half which seldom reached any great heights Wasson kicked a penalty to leave it 22-9 at the end to the Clare side. There were strong performances by Stephen Wright plus Lamont and Clarke in midfield who got through a lot of tackles.
DEFEAT FOR UNDER 19 XV
The Clare Under 19 side were at home in the league to Ballymena and while the pack played well there were still defensive problems in the back line .
After ten minutes the visitors broke clear to get a try in the corner and soon raced away for a second which was converted to lead 12-0 at half time. The Clare boys got some useful advice at the break from coach Byers and hit back with a good try by Jonathan Stokes which was converted by Chris Harvey to make it 12-7. They did do better in the second half but just failed to get another score though the pack more than held their own with Ballymena.Man of the match was wing forward Lewis Campbell despite playing out of position and Harvey also did well.But the poor finishing at times was a concern to the coach.
NEW VETERANS LEAGUE–The Ulster Branch has recognised the interest in the game at many clubs by the Over 35 and even Over 40 year olds who continue to turn out each weekend. So they have introduced three regional Veterans or Legends leagues with games to be played under floodlights on Wednesday nights. There is a combined Larne/Ballyclare team which is due to play three or four games before Christmas. The opening match is due to be played tonight (Wednesday) away to Malone.
SATURDAY FIXTURES—1st XV v Grosvenor F.P. (home)–There will be a pre match lunch at 1-30p.m. 3rdXV v Lisburn 3rds (away); 4thXV v Harlequins 4thXV (home)