Ballyclare produced the shock result of the weekend in Qualifying 1 when they defeated leaders Instonians 23-5.
Man of the Match Gareth Byers landed a brace of touchdowns, but all 17 players employed played their part in putting on a display of determined, attacking rugby that reminded the large turnout of supporters that Robert Boyd’s lads are capable of competing at the highest level.
Ballyclare kicked off with the wind at their backs and immediately went hungrily in pursuit of the ball, forcing the champions-elect to concede a penalty from which Robert Smith opened the scoring.
A foul on Gary Weatherup saw the referee produce a yellow card to leave the visitors short-handed.
When the defence failed to deal with a Steven Bailie kick, the ball was flashed across the backs to Byers who timed his arching run perfectly, scoring a try that Smith converted from the touchline.
In the second session, the city side put their first points on the board with an unconverted score in the corner.
Visiting frustrations boiled over again with their number eight sin-binned, allowing Byers to out-pace the short-handed cover and run behind the posts to make Smith’s conversion a formality.
Impressive fly-half Smith completed the rout with a final penalty, taking his personal tally to 13 points.
Ballyclare: G Byers; M Kirk, S Bailie, J Reid, J Greer; R Smith, C Morrow; A Boyd, I Holmes, D Lawther, G McKinstry, R Boyd (C), G Weatherup, J McKinstry, W Logan. Replacements: R Scott, R Tweed.
Before the match over 100 people, including the Ballyclare High School 1st XV that had lost their Schools’ Cup quarter-final to Wallace High School in the morning, were treated to a lunch generously sponsored by former players Brian Davison and Niall Lamont from Davison Lamont Ltd.
After defeating the league leaders Ballyclare will be hoping to account for bottom-of-the-table Ballymoney this weekend at Kilraughts Road.
The 2nd XV were beaten 21-10 by Omagh II in the quarter-final of the Crawford Cup, while the 3rd and 4th XVs also were knocked out of the Forster Cup, but the Under-18s scored their first win over Malone for many years.