6 Try Clare See Off CI
Ballyclare secured a bonus point win in Qualifying 1 league action at home to struggling CIYMS. A brace of tries each for Gary Clotworthy and JJ Baird helped overcome the Belfast, bottom of the table, side.
Following a flurry of snow showers right up to kick off, the weather broke to leave a wet pitch, but good overhead conditions. CIYMS proved difficult for Ballyclare to break down in the early stages of the game. CI had an early penalty attempt, punishing Ballyclare errors, kicked successfully to give them a 3 point lead. This was the last time the scoreboard advanced in their favour. CIYMS defended resolutely in the first period, limiting Ballyclare’s advances into the red zone. Ballyclare’s first try followed an effective driving maul, going right to the line. Willie Logan touched down as the maul crossed the line, the conversion from wide right was missed. The score boosted Ballyclare confidence. Just before the half time whistle, a great break, out of defence, by Clotworthy, playing at 10, saw the play surge into the CI half. Clotworthy floated an excellent lateral pass to the support runner JJ Baird, who ran in under the posts handing off the last CI defender in the process. Gareth Byers struck the conversion to give Ballyclare a 12-3 lead at the turnaround.
Ballyclare started the second half brightly. A period of pressure inside the CI 22 was rewarded with a score. A succession of pick and goes were held out by CI. The ball was spread right where Clotworthy found the gap to exploit and cut through for the touchdown, the conversion was missed. JJ Baird who was having a good afternoon of powerful running and good tackling got his second score of the game soon after. From a line out deep in CI territory, the ball was won by Robert Boyd and quickly recycled by scrum half Thomas McGookin. Baird cut in from his wing at pace and glided through the CI defence to score under the posts again. The conversion added Ballyclare were now 24-3 up, the important try bonus point secured. CI by this stage were demoralised and this reflected in their play.
Clotworthy scored his second try by chasing a kick town field, gathering and powering over to increase the Ballyclare lead. Ballyclare’s sixth and final score owed more to the soccer skills of Scott and Clarke rather than their rugby talents. A loose ball was hacked down field by Ross Scott. He set off in pursuit of it. With a CI defender about to drop on it Scott, stuck out his foot again pushing it away from the CI defender. With the try line now in sight, centre David Clarke, who had been running in support, kicked the ball again, nudging it over the line before dropping on it to score the try. Byers added the conversion to give Ballyclare a 38-3 victory.
Ballyclare forwards were worked hard by CI, Captain Gary Weatherup putting in another tenacious performance, ably supported by Logan and Robinson. The backs had the upper hand on CI all afternoon and looked dangerous with ball in hand. Man of the match award went to prop David Lawther, whose all-round work rate, of ball carrying and tackling in defence caught the eye.
Monaghan were unable to send a team to play Ballyclare 3’s. The 4’s suffered a rare loss, away, against a strong Instonians 3’s team.
Next Saturday sees Ballyclare travel to Fivemiletown to play Clogher Valley. Ballyclare suffered a narrow two point defeat at home to Clogher Valley earlier in the season and will be looking to avenge that. 2nd XV host Larne 2’s while the 4’s will wait to see if Monaghan can field a team as they are due to travel to Ballyclare again.
Ballyclare 1st XV (1-15) D Lawther, D Chambers, R Scott, R Boyd, M Stevenson, P Robinson, G Weatherup, W Logan, T McGookin, G Clotworthy, R Tweed, D Clarke, S Cusick, JJ Baird, G Byers
Replacements: M Robson, W Rea.
6 Try Clare See Off CI