BALLYCLARE RUGBY TRAVEL TO NEWCASTLE: Senior Teams Review, Tour & Mini Tournament For Sat 9th April + Pictures & Video Of III XV

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With the season nearing an end for Ballyclare Rugby Club the next few weeks will be a busy period. The 1st XV are due to play Grosvenor F.P. in a league game at the Cloughan on Friday night(7-30p.m.) and must win to keep hopes of possible promotion alive. Saturday is the Annual Mini Rugby Festival at the club (biggest in Ulster) and the following weekend (Friday 15th-Sunday 17th) a 1stXV squad make the trip to Newcastle-on -Tyne in the North-East where they are due to meet a local Newcastle club and Wimbledon from the London area over the time on tour. Then on Saturday 23rd the Clare take on Donaghadee in a really vital league game requiring another positive result if ambitions are to be realized. There is also an outstanding game at home to leaders C.I.Y.M.S. to be fitted in before the season ends on 30th April so for the players and coach Bob Young it could prove to be a hectic programme.

Last week there were only two games played—on Tuesday night at home the Seconds put up a strong fight in their Junior1 game against a strong Ballynahinch 3rd team before losing narrowly 19-15. On Saturday a strong Thirds side went to Instonians 4ths and won well 53-18. At Youth level there were two very good wins to bring two finals both to be played this Saturday— the Under 15 XV beat Ballymoney in the semi final of the U.15 Shield 43-20 with a great performance by Ryan Lorimer who scored six tries ! They now face Donaghadee in the final at a venue to be decided this week. Also last Saturday the Under 17 XV who won their league recorded a massive 74-5 win over Lisburn in the semi final of the U.17 Cup and will meet either Armagh or Virginia in the final.
This was a clash between two sides at opposite ends of the Junior 1 table but a very good showing by Slim`s men almost shocked the favourites from Co.Down.The Hinch did get an early soft try but for much of the first half the Clare boys were the better side.
Their pressure told when Craig Wallace the top try scorer from the U.19xv went in for a score and Gillan kicked the conversion. The Seconds went into a 10-5 lead after Gillan slotted over a penalty. Good work up front by Wallace,Stevie Crawford and Davy Tweed plus useful kicking by Andy Watson had kept the team going forward. But in the second half it was the visitors who began to make more ground. The Seconds lost too much lineout ball and the Hinch drove over the home line to get two tries both of which were converted to take a strong 19-10 lead.But Gillan forced his way over to score a late try which was not converted and this cut the visitors lead to 19-15. The Seconds did have a few penalties but they tried to go for touch rather than the posts. Ballynahinch held on for a narrow win in what was a fine game – they just about shaded it overall.
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The Thirds included a couple of players who were returning from injury and were always too strong for a lowly placed Inst side at Shaws Bridge.A good start enabled Adam Dyer to go in for an early try and then David Crawford made the opening to put scrum half Watson over.The home side did manage to kick a couple of penalties and also had an early try but further Clare pressure up front led to a try for second row Gowdy and Watson also raced over to get his second. Two of the tries were converted by Andrew Alexander who also kicked two penalties and this gave the Thirds a 29-6 lead at the interval.
The team remained on top and fly half Byers kept the ball moving and managed a sore on his own.Then J.J.Baird despite missing an earlier chance raced in near the corner to increase the lead . The pack kept up the pressure and prop Birkmyre surged over from a ruck to score. Watson must have made sure of man of the match as broke clear to notch his hattrick. Alexander kicked two conversions plus a penalty but credit had to go to a game Inst team who managed to nick a late score to make it 53-18 at the end. For the Thirds Byers,Watson,Crawford and Clarke always posed a threat in the backs while the pack all worked hard in a fine win.
1st XV v Grosvenor F.P. (home) Friday night 7-30 p.m. Saturday : 2ndXV v Clogher Valley 2nds (away); 3rd XV v Lisburn 3rds (away)
Under 15 Xv v Donaghadee (Shield Final) Under 17 XV v Armagh or Virginia (Cup Final)

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