Qualifying One: The Instonians pack proved to be too strong for Ballyclare’s eight at Shaw’s Bridge, where the home side cruised to an emphatic victory.
Robert Boyd’s lads did well to restrict the hosts to a five-points lead at the break, but when Inst had the elements in their favour after the interval they ran in four unanswered scores to finish 30-5 up.
In the sixth minute Instonians opened the scoring with a converted try from a short lineout, and they were soon 10 points ahead when their kicker landed an excellent long-range penalty against the wind.
Ballyclare did have their fair share of possession but moves petered out because of poor handling and basic errors in difficult conditions.
Their industry was eventually rewarded when the forwards and backs combined to move the ball wide, allowing David Crawford to cross in the corner for a try that was not improved upon.
That 10-5 interval scoreline was as good as it got for the White Hare lads, as the hosts added four more unconverted scores, while the Clare side of the scorecard remained static.
“Instonians are a very strong side, built upon a powerful pack,” stated Robin Byers. “Six months ago they were in the All-Ireland League, while we were two divisions below them in Qualifying League Section 2, so considering that they were the odds-on favourites we took some positives from the game.
“They had a well-drilled pack that outmuscled us, and we had no answer to their rolling mauls that often confined us to our own quarters, and they were very slick at the lineout, where they always took their own ball and challenged ours as well,” he added.
Ballyclare: G Byers; J Greer, D Crawford, D Clarke, M Kirk; C James, C Morrow; A Boyd, A Wylie, D Lawther, G McKinstry, R Boyd (C), G Weatherup, D Crothers, W Logan. Replacements: J Brownlee, J McKinstry.
n Influential fly-half Niall Lawther missed this match, but he should be available for Saturday’s Junior Cup clash with Belfast Harlequins II at The Cloughan, where a place in the quarter-final will be at stake.