REPORT Ballymena 2s v Ballyclare 1s

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Ballyclare exit the cup
Saturday proved to be a day of cup disappointments for Ballyclare, when the 3 teams that took to the field all exited their respective cup competitions.
The 1st XV had a difficult draw in the Towns Cup, making the short journey to Eaton Park to play Ballymena 2nd XV. Regulars Niall Lawther, Clarke and Cusick were all missing from the starting line-up. JJ Baird, and Jonathan Reid started in the centre and wing berths respectively. Robert Smith started at out half, Andrew Butler at full back.
Within the first 5 mins of the game, Robert Smith competed with, and beat a Ballymena player in the air to take a high ball. Unfortunately for Robert and for Ballyclare, in the contact he damaged his shoulder and had to leave the field. Kris James took over a 10.
Ballyclare opened the scoring with a Gary Clotworthy penalty after Ballymena were judged to be offside at a ruck between the 22 and 10m lines. Clotworthy struck the ball well and dissected the uprights.
Ballyclare were under pressure from the bigger, heavier Ballymena pack, in the scrums. Determination and commitment in the tackle and at the breakdown, kept Ballyclare in contention up to half time. Midway through the first period Ballymena exerted some pressure in the Ballyclare 22. Good ball retention and slick passing saw a scrambling Ballyclare defence breached as the ball was touched down to the right of the posts. The conversion was good giving Ballymena a 7-3 lead. A Clotworthy penalty attempt from wide right, just missed, 5min before the halftime whistle blew.
At the turn around the numbered Ballyclare support were optimistic. Ballymena hit a penalty early on to go 10-3 up and confirmed their increasing dominance with 2 converted scores to go 24-3 up. Ballyclare got a try, when exerting pressure on the Ballymena line. Ballymena conceded penalties at the breakdown in desperation at keeping Ballyclare out. Twice Ballyclare elected for the 5m scrum. At the second scrum, Rainey, who had a super game at 8 picked up and fed Watson at scrum half. Watson passed right to Butler who took the ball at pace and crossed the Ballymena line. Kris James hit the upright with the conversion attempt. 24-8.
Ballymena scored a final converted try at the end, to put Ballyclare out of the Towns Cup, 31-8.
A determined Ballyclare performance, where the efforts of the first half, took their toll in the second. Rainey, Robinson and the Boyd brothers showed well for Ballyclare in the forwards. Andrew Butler had a good game at full back. Attention now focuses on the league again where next week Instonians visit the Cloughan.
The 2nd XV faced a strong Banbridge 3’s team in the Crawford Cup second round and went down 17-10. Gareth Byers scoring the Ballyclare points. The 3rd XV left Lurgan empty handed in their Forster Plate game. The 4’s game against Malone 4’s was postponed due to unplayable pitches in Ballyclare and will be played next week.
Ballyclare 1st XV, A Butler, R Tweed, G Clotworthy, JJ Baird, J Reid, R Smith, A Watson, M Rainey, P Robinson, J McKinstry, R Boyd, W Logan, A Boyd, R Scott, D Lawther
Replacements; K James, D Chambers

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