Ballyclare RFC overturned an early 12 points’ deficit to run in six unanswered scores in a 45-12 win over Ards, securing a bonus point in Qualifying 1 at The Cloughan.
Gary Clotworthy led the tryfest with a brace, with Willie Logan, Niall Lawther, James Reid and Ryan Tweed also getting their names on the scorecard.
The main talking point after the game concerned a controversial penalty try awarded to the visitors. With play well away from the scoreline in an area between the 22 and the 10 metres line, the match official awarded a penalty try for an alleged deliberate knock-on.
Having scored an early unconverted try this put Ards 12-0 ahead and to compound the bizarre incident the Ballyclare camp maintain referee issued a yellow card to the wrong player.
Undeterred by this early reverse, Weatherup’s men settled down to take charge of the game.
Robert Smith opened is side’s account with a long-range penalty and then converted a score by Logan who forced his way over following a series of recycled rucks.
A characteristic barnstorming attack by centre Dave Clarke paved the way for fly-half Niall Lawther to ghost past his opposite number en route to the line for an unconverted score. That left Ballyclare 15-12 ahead at the interval.
In the second session Ards rarely got out of their own half after their Fijian forward was dismissed.
Smith slotted over his second penalty and then added the extras when winger Reid gathered a diagonal kick by Lawther to cross in the corner.
Now 25-12 in front, Ballyclare were rampant. And following an excellent line-out catch by number eight Michael Rainey, Clotworthy clinched the much-valued bonus point with a score that Smith goaled.
In the final phase right winger Tweed and Clotworthy added further unconverted scores, to make it two wins in a row for the White Hare men.
The Man of the Match award sponsored by Billy Johnston went to skipper Gary Weatherup for his all round energetic display.
Ballyclare: R Smith; R Tweed, G Clotworthy, D Clarke, J Reid; N Lawther, T McGookin; M Finlay, R Scott, A Boyd, R Johnston, W Logan, P Robinson, G Weatherup (c), M Rainey. Replacements: J McKinstry, K James.
Ballyclare High School are set to host New Zealand school side Tauranga Boys’ College on Friday (Sept 25) in a return fixture from their summer tour. The game kicks off at 4pm.