ARDS RFC I XV WIN BATTLE OF BOYNE 15 V 13
As the scoreline suggests this was a close run affair between two well matched teams with the final result in some doubt right up until the final whistle. Boyne were the welcome visitors to Hamilton Park last Saturday, this being the first ever fixture be
For Ards the game took on a particular significance as a win was vital if there was to be any chance of avoiding the automatic relegation spot.
The importance of the result was certainly a motivating factor and Ards produced a quality display in the first half to go into the interval with a 15-0 advantage. From the whistle the home side got onto the front foot, retaining possesion and playing their rugby in the opposition’s half of the pitch. Tries from Mark Banford and Andrew Foster with the latter converted by Paul Cox put Ards 12-0 up and Cox added a penalty before half time. With the linout firing well and Ards holding their own in the scrums, Boyne spent very little time in the Ards half and for long periods, the Ardsmen were encamped on or close to the Boyne try line. Whilst a 15-0 lead was most acceptable another score before the interval would have calmed the nerves of the supporters and would have been well desrved on the balance of play.
The second half proved to be something of a rollercoaster ride with Boyne slowly but surely making inroads to the Ards scoreline. Two early penalties in the 43rd and 47th minutes reduced the lead to 9 points and there then followed a passage of play were both sides had plenty of possession but neither could gain an advantage in terms of a genuine scoring chance. Ards were then awarded a kickable penalty of their own in the 56th minute. However the opportunity was spurned as they decided to kick for the corner instead. Whilst this kept play inside the Boyne 22 metre line no points were added to the Ards total. Then, some superb defence from Boyne saw them turning over possesson and a sweeping movement took them the length of the pitch to score a converted try under the posts. With only a 2 point advantage and 20 minutes remaining this was the defining period of play in the game. Boyne now had the momentum behind them but they faltered against a rock solid defence in which Creighton, Dowey and Piper were to the fore. Discipline was the watchword as any score in those dying moments could have won the game for the visitors. With only 2 minutes remaining Hamilton Park held its breath as Boyne eventually broke through. The ball was transferred to their full back who took it on at full speed and seemed to be heading for an inevitable try when Mark Banford, in a do or die effort, made sufficient contact to bundle him onto the touch line just 5 metres short. Such can be the difference in winning or losing an All Ireland League match. Ards then played out the remaining moments to gain 4 invaluable league points which lifted them off the bottom of the Table. Their last league match is on 14th April, away to a strong Navan team who have had an impressive season, when every effort must be made once again to get a result.
The Ards side for the Boyne match was; Foster, Piper, Wylie, Dowey, McCavery, Creighton, Broughal, Calvert,
Banford, Beggs, O’Toole, Young, Taylor, Diver, Cox, McClure, Millar, Minis, Sinnamon, Wilson.
Ards 13 vs 28 Highfield
ARDS IN RELEGATION DOGFIGHT Ards 13 V 28 Highfield
Last Saturday, Cork side Highfield were the visitors to Hamilton Park for another All Ireland League match and they would have come into this match with some confidence having not lost since October.
It was a big match for the home side as a win would give them a significant boost as we reach the business end of the season. Highfield won the toss and elected to play into the breeze. Ards got into their stride quickly and when one of their forwards was offside in a ruck, Paul Cox dispatched the penalty to give them a 3-o lead after 5 minutes. Highfield showed why they are a top 4 side in this league and struck back with a penalty of their own after 8 minutes to level the scores.
Chris Allen, returning to the side after a lenghty break was having a distinct influence on the match. It was his break in the 19th minute at the side of a ruck which opened up the Highfield defence and he found Steven Minis up in support on his inside. He drew the lasr defender and then timed his pass to perfection to give Minis a straight run in under the posts. Cox had no difficulty with the conversion and Ards now had a 10-3 lead.
The efforts of the Ards pack took a setback in the 25th minute when the abrasive Conor Piper was shown a yellow card. This made life difficult in the scrums with Ards having to put on a front row repacement and take off one of their flankers. The Highfield pack took full advantage of their superior numbers and Ards found themselves defending inside their 22 metre line. The Ards defence was up for the challenge however and eventually turned the ball over after some good work from Creighton and McCavery. some big hits caused Highfield to knock the ball on and with possession secured at the back of the ruck Ards were baffled when the Referee blew his whistle for an Ards scrum. This was most certainly not playing advantage and with Ards a man down in the scrum it was no suprise when the scrum was lost. Highfield moved the ball quickley to score to the left of the posts and with the conversion added the score was all square at 10-10. Paul Cox was successful with a penalty in the 38th minute to give Ards a slender 3 point lead at the interval.
The second half saw the elements conspire against the home side. The breeze became much stronger and Ards played most of the half into heavy rain. Highfield, as expected, Kicked to the corners on every occasion and used their lineout and strong maul to good effect. Ards spend long periods of the second half defending and the pressure eventually took its toll. A penalty for Highfield was followed by a coverted try. Then a further penalty in the 75 th minute took Ards out of bonus point territory. With the last move of the match Highfield scored wide out on the right to leave them the winners at 13-28. The Ards squad was; Millar, Piper,
Foster. Broughall, McCavery, Minis, Creighton, Diver, Allen, Banford, Beggs, Devlin, Young, Cox, Wylie, McClure, Calvert, Ferguson,McClean.