Ballyclare Shock Bangor @ Upritchard Park

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Ballyclare promoted back to Qualifying 1 after two very successful years reaching finals of Towns and Junior Cups as well as lifting the Q.2 title last season, went to Bangor under new coaches Campbell and Best to take on the Seasiders who had beaten both A.I.L teams Ards and Dungannon. Bangor with a bigger pack started well and made ground in the loose through Stewart and Clegg and on three minutes forced the visitors off side for Rossan to give them a 3-0 lead.The Clare hit back with a wide angled penalty but Byers was wide before a good bre ak by Kirkon the right led to atry from the powerful Clarke near the corner with Byers just missing the conversion and a 5- 3 lead. The home pack made ground into the 22 and had a penalty chance but Rossan was wide .The Clare were forced to defend from deep as N.Lawther and Morrow cleared effectively.But the pressure led to another penalty which Rossan converted to go 6-5 ahead The Clare broke out as Clarke took play to the opposite 22 and a later searing run from N.Lawther created problems for the home team who were becoming more frustrated at failing to break the visitors defence and close to half time the Clare scrum half Morrow was clattered heavily and suffered a facial injury but after treatment bravely carried on.
In the second half Clare skipper R.Boyd was injured but played on and a home player was yellow carded. A period of Clare pressure seemed to bring a try in the corner only to be harshly wiped out for a foot apparently in touch. But a penalty from Byers gave the visitors a narrow 8-6 lead.Logan now came on for Robinson at wing forward and the Clare pack who had shown huge desire and application drove their bigger opponents back into their own 22 for prop D.Lawther to get a vital try that was not converted but a 13-6 lead. Further good work fromthe Ballyclare forwards forced another penalty on the 22 and Byers slotted the kick to take a deserved 16-6 lead. Bangor finished strongly forcing a penalty that was not best used and looked to get a score as Widdowson sprinted clear only to be caught by a pacey Byers who prevented the try and a losing point.
This was a fine team effort from Ballyclare as the pack never gave up and showed great fitness -trbute to the pre season coaching. Behind the scrum Morrow defended well in the second half despite his injury and Clarke and Crawford tackled strongly while N.Lawther also made vital clearances . The result was an obvious shock to both the home team and the big crowd but for the Clare it was the best possible start to life again in the top league.The game was very well controlled by referee Johnny Peak. .

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