As expected Ballyclare Rugby Club safely negotiated the first hurdle in their defence of the Towns’ Cup when they saw off Ards II at Hamilton Park.
However Robert Boyd’s lads had to work harder than expected to earn the 24-10 result that secured advancement to round two.
With Robert Smith and Gareth Byers back after being sidelined for several months, coach Bob Young was able to name arguably his strongest side, and by half time they had built up a 14-points lead.
Lock Graeme McKinstry opened the scoring with a try that Colin Morrow goaled following a fine run by centre David Crawford.
In the first half the hosts threatened only occasionally and they fell further behind when wing forward Jordan McKinstry made ground before transferring to winger James Greer, who crossed in the corner for an unconverted score.
Continuing to press forward Ballyclare almost increased the lead when number eight, Chris Coburn and winger Byers were stopped just short of the line.
Approaching the interval Ards came more in to the game and were rewarded when their fly-half kicked a penalty.
But the White Hare lads had the final say when skipper Boyd followed up a kick ahead by Byers to add another five points, giving his side a 17-3 lead at the break.
During the third quarter Niall Lawther and Crawford stretched the home defence, and soon afterwards Crawford got his name on the scorecard when he crossed for another touchdown that Morrow was unable to improve upon.
Finishing strongly Ards got their only try when their right winger sprinted clear from his own twenty-two for a fine solo score that was goaled.
Ards were now having their best spell but they were unable to penetrate a resolute ‘Clare defence.
Ballyclare: R Smith; G Byers (M Kirk), D Crawford, J Reid, J Greer; N Lawther, C Morrow; A Boyd, I Holmes, D Lawther (M Finlay), R Boyd (c), G McKinstry, G Weatherup, J McKinstry, C Coburn.
On Saturday Ballyclare travel to Carrick to fulfil a Qualifying League Section 2 fixture.
The 2nd XV saw off CIYMS II at the Cloughan where the home team won the Junior League Section 1 fixture 15-3.
A CI penalty was the only score of the first half, but the lead changed hands when full back Luke Ireland went in for a score that David Clarke converted.
Clarke then scored an unconverted try, before Andy Watson completed the scoring with a penalty.
This was the Seconds fourth win on the bounce, and keeps them in contention for the title.
Other results: Ballyclare III 7, Ballymena III 19; Monaghan Under-17 7 v Ballyclare Under-17 7; Monaghan Under-13 20 v Ballyclare Under-13 29.