AFTER being pipped at the post for promotion in each of the past two seasons, officials and players of Ballyclare Rugby Club are hoping that it proves to be third time lucky in the new campaign.
In order to ensure the lads will be in tip-top form and ready to commence their Qualifying League 2 programme in top gear, coach Bob Young is concentrating on Qualifying League 1 opposition in the pre-season friendlies.
First up were Dromore at the weekend, with trips to Ballymoney and Coleraine arranged for the next two Saturdays, while a midweek visit to Eaton Park to play Ballymena II is in the pipeline.
The training session at The Cloughan against Dromore was organised in four sessions of 20 minutes each on Saturday afternoon.
The first two sessions were evenly contested and remained scoreless despite fine runs by regulars David Clarke, Gary Weatherup, Nathan Loughlin, Willie Logan and Adam Wardrop, while James Greer, coming straight from the Ballyclare High School 1st XV, and Stephen Beasant from the Youth XV both impressed.
During the third session despite good tackling by Greer and Colin Morrow, Dromore scored the first try of the afternoon, and then added a second to forge ahead 12-0.
Each side scored a try in the final session, but Dromore failed to convert theirs, while JJ Baird put Gareth Byers in for a score that he also goaled to leave Dromore 17-7 winners overall.
Young was not present at this session owing to being off to Dublin to gain further coaching qualifications, but he will be on the line this weekend when the 1st and 2nd XVs will be at Kilraughts Road to take on their Ballymoney counterparts.
Training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday are being fairly well attended, but all team coaches appeal to members who have not checked in to do so immediately.
The opening Kukri Qualifying 1 league fixture of the new season will be on September 7 with a visit to Lisburn, and this will be followed by a home Junior Cup tie on 14th against Cooke.