Ballyclare up to third as they edge past Dromore

Rugby enthusiasts who braved the rainfall at The Cloughan were treated to a rip-roaring contest that produced 50 points, with Ballyclare just edging it 27-23 against Dromore.

This was the fifth win from eight starts by Gary Weatherup’s men, who now sit in third spot in the Qualifying One.

Robert Smith and his counterpart exchanged penalties in the opening quarter to make it 6-6, before the game sparked in to life. Full-back Smith broke through the cover, linked with David Clarke, who put hooker David Chambers in for the opening score that Smith goaled.

Then came a period of Dromore pressure, but the home defence held firm. Approaching the interval, Ballyclare surged further ahead when Stuart Cusack recycled the ball to winger Ryan Stewart, who crossed in the corner for a score Smith converted to stretch the lead to 20-6 at the turnaround.

The visitors restarted in style scoring a converted try and a penalty to reduce the deficit to four points. Smith was then sent to the sin-bin for what the referee adjudged as a deliberate knock-on.

However, in his absence the White Hare men increased their lead, when Clarke powered his way over at pace. Lawther’s conversion made it 27-16, but Dromore had the final say with a third try that earned a losing bonus point.

Ballyclare: R Smith; R Tweed, D Clarke, S Cusack, A Butler; N Lawther, A Watson; D Lawther, D Chambers, A Boyd, R Boyd, M Stevenson, G Weatherup (C), P Robinson, W Logan. Replacements: JJ Baird, R Scott.

Club President, Alistair Lindsay, welcomed 90 people packed in to the clubhouse for a pre-match lunch sponsored by Karl Group. The guests included the Ballyclare group that toured Holland in 1985, the fledgling Ballyclare Ladies team, their coach Teah Maguire, and representatives from their sponsor, Tesco Northcott.

Elsewhere, the 3rd XV lost 46-0 to Instonians III, but coach Garth Johnston said there were good performances from Paddy Scott and Stuart Campbell in the pack, while Tom Waterfield and Chris Gawn impressed in the back division. with the lop-sided scoreline flattering the city side.

Saturday’s fixtures: 2nd XV v Malone III, home; 3rd XV v Inishowen, away; 4th XV v Lisburn III, home.