Ballyclare bounce back with win over rivals Academy

Ballyclare and Academy battle it out at the Cloughan.
Ballyclare and Academy battle it out at the Cloughan.

Ballyclare bounced back from their Junior Cup final defeat to significantly enhance their promotion aspirations when they saw off their chief challengers, Academy.

On a gloomy afternoon the floodlights were on for the full 80 minutes at The Cloughan, where Robert Boyd’s side had to work hard for a 20-13 Qualifying League 2 win.

The Hydepark lads opened the scoring with a Dave Kenny penalty following an offside infringement, but soon the hosts were ahead when David Clarke put winger JJ Baird in for a try that Gary Clotworthy converted from the touchline.

Baird doubled his personal tally when he took a pass from skipper Robert Boyd, and crossed for an unconverted score to make it 12-3 at the break.

Ballyclare’s centres, David Crawford and David Clarke, punched holes in the Academy defence at times and in one surge a score seemed on the cards until Al Boyd was unable to hold the pass with the line beckoning.

The visitors were well in the game and only a superb tackle by full-back Clotworthey prevented winger Carson from scoring.

The killer blow came when Wardrop, playing at scrum-half, made ground before transferring to Graham McKinstry who went over for another unconverted try.

Academy responded with a well-worked score. Scrum-half Kenny kicked a penalty to touch in the corner and from the resultant line-out the pack drove over for a score that Kenny goaled.

Ballyclare fly-half Niall Lawther calmed home nerves when he slotted over a fine dropped goal to make it 20-10.

Baird just missed out on a hat-trick when he was tackled just short of the line after Chris Coburn and Robert Boyd had done the spadework.

Academy didn’t buckle and a late Kenny penalty kept the issue in doubt, and the home defence was glad to hear the final whistle.

Ballyclare: G Clotworthy; J Greer, D Crawford, D Clarke, JJ Baird; N Lawther, A Wardrop; A Boyd, A Wylie, D Lawther, G McKinstry, R Boyd (C), G Weatherup, J McKinstry, C Coburn.

The 2nd XV had a narrow 13-11 win against Grosvenor II in Junior League Section 1

Fixtures: Carrick II v 2nd XV; 3 rd XV v City of Derry III; Lisburn III v 4th XV.