Ballyclare men slump to a fifth defeat on the spin

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Ballyclare slumped to their fifth defeat on the bounce when they were ‘cooked’ at Shaw’s Bridge in a Qualifying 1 clash.

After leading 17-10 at the break, Cooke added two unanswered penalties in the second session to win 20-10,and deny the White Hare lads a losing bonus point.

Ballyclare coaches Campbell and Best made wholesale personnel and positional changes in an attempt to stop the rot that has dropped them to fifth position, having started the season with four wins from their first five.

The front row remained intact, but David Chambers was the sole remaining member of the back trio. He was partnered by Ryan Tweed and Nigel Moore, who earned his place courtesy of four scores for the 2nd XV the previous week. Willie Logan swapped his favoured number eight jersey for number five, partnering skipper Robert Boyd, while flanker Gary Weatherup switched to the wing. Nathan Loughlin formed a new partnership at centre with Dave Clarke, while Gareth Byers moved from full-back to scrum-half.

But the changes failed to prevent the hosts from forging ahead with a converted try midway through the first half.

Ballyclare hit back with a well-worked score. Weatherup’s mazy run was supported by full -back Stephen Bailie, and the ball was whisked out to winger James Greer who cut through the line for an unconverted touchdown.

Cooke increased the lead when the ball bobbled out of their attacking scrum and caught the defence flat-footed, with an unconverted try that made it 12-5.

The deficit was reduced to two points when Logan powered his way over the line, but before half time the city lads scored from another scrum, leaving the score at 17-10.

Ballyclare failed to add to their tally, while the locals slotted over a brace of penalties to make victory secure.

Next up: Donaghadee (h) Feb 7.