Following two heavy defeats, Ballyclare RFC picked up their first Qualifying 1 points of the season with a 36-21 win against Cooke at Shaw’s Bridge.
Coach Mike McKeever made several changes with new signing Andrew Butler on a dual status with Queen’s on the bench, while the return of Michael Rainey strengthened the pack with Ulster Under 18s scrum-half Thomas McGookin deputising for Colin Morrow who is out with an arm injury.
Full-back Bobby Smith celebrated his first outing following the end of Templepatrick’s cricket season with a personal haul of 26 points in the 36-21 triumph.
The hosts started as favourites and true to form were seven points up after only two minutes, but moments later the scores were level again when a Gary Clotworthy break led to fly-half Niall Lawther side-stepping his marker to cross for a score that Smith goaled.
A Smith penalty nudged them ahead, but a wayward looping pass was intercepted to gift Cooke a converted score that had them 14-10 in front.
Smith reduced the deficit to a single point with his second penalty before Rainey broke from a ruck to force his way over for a try that was converted by Smith. He later added another penalty to give Ballyclare a 23-14 lead at the break.
Weatherup’s lads continued to have the upper-hand and when Smith added another 13 points it was all over.
First he added two penalties, and then centre Clotworthy made good ground before off-loading to Smith who touched down and then added the extras to make it 36-14. The hosts had the final say with a late consolation score.
Ballyclare: B Smith; R Tweed, G Clotworthy, D Clarke, S Cusack; N Lawther, T McGookin; M Finlay, R Scott, A Boyd, W Logan, R Johnston, P Robinson, G Weatherup (C), M Rainey. Replacements: J McKinstry, A Butler.
Next up: Ards at The Cloughan.
The 2nd and 3rd XVs both lost, while Marc Fox’s 4th XV won against Ballymoney IV. Meanwhile, Ballyclare’s Alpha Night takes place at The Cloughan on Saturday, September 26.
n In Kukri Qualifying 2, Academy went down 37-22 at home to Grosvenor, but Ophir eased to a 35-14 success at home to Lurgan in Qualifying Three.
Schools matches: Ballyclare High 13-6 BRA; Belfast High 5-12 Limavady Grammar.