First Trust Senior Cup: Instonians 42 Ards 17

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Ards played their First Trust Senior Cup quarter-final against Instonians at Shaws Bridge on Thursday evening, and despite what the score line might suggest, this was far from being a one sided contest. Indeed at one stage in the second half, both teams were separated by only 3 points.

Inst hit the ground running after only two minutes on the clock when they scored their first converted try, quickly followed by a second unconverted try, three minutes later. Ards were somewhat shell shocked by this explosive start by their South Belfast opposition, but gradually got themselves going and on 15 minutes got their own account up and running.

Ards forward unit lead by lock and Captain John Dowey, rucked and mauled their way up to the half way line where Mark Banford was able to fire out a great ball to Paul Cox in the out half berth. Coxy then popped to Taylor Ferguson who took the route one option, going straight towards the goal line and showed his power and strength by bursting through a couple of defenders as he surged onwards. With no support in the immediate vicinity, the teenager fended off yet another tackle and ultimately crashed over the line to score an excellent try under the posts. The extras were added by Michael Lawton and Ards were back in the game.

Instonians were a bit rattled by this event and responded by scoring a penalty and a third unconverted try before the half was over to regain the imitative as the halftime break beckoned.

Ards were performing reasonably well at times but were leaking scores through mistimed passes and some dodgy defence.

In the second half, it was Ards who were quickest out of the blocks. Scott Young made a sizzling trademark break deep inside the Ards 22 and cut the Belfast side wide open as he raced into opposition territory. Trevor Devlin had come off his left wing and was in close proximity for Young to offload out to his right. Devlin raced on up towards the home 22 and offloaded again out right to Michael Lawton. The flying winger then skinned the last man to score another superb try, which he also converted. Five minutes later, he added another 3 points from a well struck penalty to narrow the gap to just 3 points and the prospect of a big upset was on the cards.

Instonians however had other ideas and landed a penalty of their own and two converted tries, before calm was restored to their ranks and on the touchline. Ards fought hard and ran the ball at every opportunity, but more defensive errors and wayward passing cost them dear as Inst capitalised and scored another unconverted try to kill off any prospect of Ards staging a comeback.

As the final whistle approached, Ards still tried to have the last say even to the extent of skipper Dowey executing an audacious sidestep and wrong footing the entire Inst backline as he sprinted up the park to try and salvage something from the lost cause.

In the end Inst ran out worthy winners on a night that should have been so much better from an Ards perspective, but just wasn’t to be.

Ards have a week off before hosting their penultimate AIB game against Dublin side Suttonian’s on March 27th. Until then train hard and play easy.

Ards team :- J Millar, J Garrett, A Foster, J Dowey, K Heaslip, J Dawson, A Hassard, J Hill, M Banford, P Cox, T Ferguson, S Young, T Devlin, M Lawton, M Taylor, J Wylie, C Piper, D Algie, W McAlister, A Crawford.

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