Ballyclare beat the adverse weather conditions on Saturday, but not the holders, Instonians, at the quarter-final stage in the Junior Cup.
Hopes of a ‘Clare win were still alive at the interval at Shaw’s Bridge when they turned round three points up, but second-half errors allowed the hosts to book a spot in the last four with an emphatic 22-10 win.
Following heavy rain the ground was in surprisingly good condition, with the home side early on the attack. Instonians opened the scoring with a counter-attack from their own 22. Their fly-half broke through a couple of timid tackles, and following a bout of inter-passing against the scrambling defence, secured a converted try.
From the restart Ballyclare forced an error at the breakdown and full-back Robert Smith slotted over the penalty and for a time the city side were forced on to the back foot.
Midway through the first session fly-half Niall Lawther made a break deep into home territory where he linked with Smith who crossed near the posts for a try that made the conversion a formality.
So the Cloughan men turned round 10-7 ahead, but just before the interval they had a player sin-binned and they paid the penalty three minutes after the restart when Instonians regained the lead with an unconverted score.
Gary Weatherup’s men continued to attack through some phases of enterprising play, but couldn’t make the final breakthrough.
A wayward pass inside their own half was intercepted by a home player, who raced the length of the pitch to stretch the lead to 17-10.
Inst were rather fortunate to be ahead at this stage, but, when the ball was spilled again by the visitors, the home pack swarmed round to produce the final score.
Although beaten, this was a much-improved Ballyclare performance overall, but errors at crucial moments proved costly.
Ballyclare: R Smith; A Butler, S Cusack, D Clarke, R Tweed; N Lawther, A Watson; D Lawther, R Scott, A Boyd, R Boyd, W Logan, G Weatherup, P Robinson, M Rainey. Replacements: D Chambers, J Reid.
This weekend, Dromore are the visitors to The Cloughan to fulfil a Qualifying League Section 1 fixture. The 2nd XV also have a home Junior League clash with Instonians III.