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On Saturday Ballyclare 1st XV had to make six changes for the key clash at home to Donaghadee in Qualifying2. Unavailable were Steve Morrow,Ian Russell,Paul Morrow,Gary Clotworthy,Darren Montgomery and Graeme McKinstry. This meant several changes both positional and personnel had tobe made against a Dee side which fielded a big strong pack.The Clare side needed a win and hope for C.I.Y.M.S. to beat the Dee last night to give them the second promotion place up to Qual.1. Despite the rack of changes made it was the home team in front of another big crowd who took the game to the Co.Down men and were ahead in the opening quarter. Despite an early error by full back Byers the visitors out half was wide with a drop goal attempt.
But after only six minutes they did go 3-0 up from a penalty by the scrum half.Ballyclare responded with a great break by Jackson on half way to put J.J.Baird in for a try onthe right which Collie Morrow converted for a 7-3 lead. Then minutes later the home backs again from mid field and this time Jonny Reid raced clear to score near the right corner. The conversion was just wide but the Clare now led 12-3. Donaghadee forced a penalty which was kicked into the home 22 and from the ensuing lineout their strong pack drove aver to get a try in the corner not converted.But once more the Clare hit back as Morrow slotted over a penalty to make it 15-8. McGrugan broke out but lacked support and the home side was harshly penalised but Collie Morrow cleared under pressure only for the visitors to kinish ick a penalty for off side and reduce the Clare lead to 15-11. After a high tackle by a home player the Dee pushed up to the Clare line and following another penalty they turned pressure into a try in the corner . This gave them a narrow 16-15 lead at half time in what had been a closely contested affair. At the interval the visitors must have decided to up the pace because they totally dominated the second half when the Clare had to absorb a lot of pressure. A powerful start from the Dee pack led to an early try from a ruck near the corner to edge 21-15 in front.From the next Dee attack Byers did well to clear and Baird broke up to half way to be forced into touch. Then Reid was sin binned in front of his posts and the Dee scrum half slotted over the penalty to make it 24-15 and sadly the writing was on the wall for the Clare`s aspirations. Continuous pressure now at set scrums and rucks from the visitors pack led to a series of attacks and they broke clear to sore a try in the corner to a roar from their big travelling support. Though it was not converted they were now well clear at 29-15. Logan`s men kept trying to make ground and both Tweed and Weatherup had useful runs to half way but the Clare seldom reached the opposite 22 and the big Dee forced his way over at the posts for a converted try to make the final score 36-15. They fully deserved the win and are now promoted to Qual.1 in the new season. Ballyclare should finish in third place and this year have played a lot of attractive attacking rugby which brought several big wins but the narrow losses to Omagh,Lisburn and C.I.Y.M.S. proved costly at the end of the day.However credit must go to coach Bob Young,skipper Willie Logan and the team for creating such a big challenge that lasted right up to the last game of the league. Saturday`s game was sponsored by Flogas and special mention must be made of centre Jackson who had a fine game and despite being injured on two occasions bounced back to continue to tackle players nearly twice his size as well as trying to create openings in difficult circumstances.
BALLYCLARE 3rds 24 BALLYNAHINCH 5ths 20
The Thirds led by Tony Turner are finishing their Junior 3 league campaign well and on Saturday did well to narrowly defeat Ballynahinch at home. They were well served by Rob Smith making a welcome return in the b acks. The first half was a closely contested affair but the Thirds led 14-10 at the break due to tries from Chris Hall and Matthew Crothers both converted by Andrew Alexander. The `Hinch came back in the second half with a couple of scores but Smith raced in to get a try which was again converted by Alexander who had earlier kicked a penalty. The Third s did enoughto hold on to collect the points.
BALLYCLARE 4ths 23 BALLYNAHINCH 6ths 0
The Fourths have only lost once (to Ballymena 5ths) and have set up a key last game tonight (Wed.) against the same Ballymena team to try and force a play off. On Saturday John Wasson`s men won well against Ballynahinch when man of the match was centre Trevor Clarke who had a hat trick of tries. He got two tries in the first half with Wasson kicking a conversion plus a penalty for a 15-0 lead. Clarke added another try in the second half while Wasson again kicked a penalty. Harry Gaston stood out in the pack but clake was overall outstanding.
BALLYCLARE 4ths 22 HARLEQUINS 4ths 12
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On Tuesday night the Fourths had another useful victory at home over Belfast Harlequins. They built up a 17-7 lead at the interval due to tries by Jonn Barnett,Paul Sempey and David Crawford with a conversion from Wasson against a try to Quins. In the second half wasson went in for a try from a ruck and the visitors also had a second score.
FIXTURES—4thXV v Ballymena 5ths (Tonight Wednesday 7-30 p.m. ) home ; 1st Xv v Ballynahinch 2nds (away) Thursday in Qual.2 Conference
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