Ballyclare move a step closer to promotion

Ballyclare gain possession against Limavady. INNT 11-022-FP
Ballyclare gain possession against Limavady. INNT 11-022-FP
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Another bonus point win inched Ballyclare closer to a return to Qualifying League Section 1 on Saturday. Limavady were the victims of a 31-0 whitewash at The Cloughan, where five unanswered tries enhanced their position at the Qualifying 2 summit.

In the absence of Robert Smith, the regular place kicker, Colin Morrow took over and top-scored with eleven points - a try and three conversions, just ahead of fly-half Niall Lawther who chipped in with two touchdowns.

Evergreen number eight, Willie Logan, opened the scoring after half an hour, when he picked up at the back of a scrum and crashed through the cover for a score that Morrow goaled.

Full-back Gareth Byers, who was deputising for Smith, paved the way for Lawther’s first unconverted touchdown, when he joined the line before handing on to the number 10.

Approaching the interval Limavady at last began to make inroads towards the home 22, but their side of the scorecard remained blank at the break.

Limavady resumed in top gear, with their strong pack threatening to score on several occasions during the third quarter, in which the hosts’ best response was an attempted dropped goal by Lawther that fell short.

The lead was stretched to 19-0 when centre Jonny Reid took a crisp pass from Lawther to cross for a try that Morrow converted.

Wing forward Gary Weatherup thought he had scored when he crossed, having been put clear by skipper Robert Boyd, but the referee ruled that the final pass had been forward.

Lawther doubled his personal tally when he made an interception in his own half, and raced in at the corner for an unconverted score that secured the valued bonus point.

The final touchdown started with a run out of defence by James Greer, who swapped passes with his captain before crossing, leaving Morrow to complete the rout with his third conversion.

Coach Bob Young was pleased with the performance and was smiling broadly when he learned that main rivals, Omagh Accies, had failed to secure a bonus point while defeating Carrick.

If Omagh collect full 20 points from their four remaining fixtures they would total a maximum 75 points; so Ballyclare on 64 with three to play, and a superior points difference, need only 11 points to clinch the Qualifying 2 title.

Their remaining fixtures are: Strabane, home and away; Randalstown, away.

Ballyclare: G Byers; J Greer, D Crawford, J Reid, S Beasant; N Lawther, C Morrow; A Boyd, A Wylie, D Lawther, G McKinstry, R Boyd (C), G Weatherup, J McKinstry, W Logan.

Match sponsor: SDE Decorators.

Ball sponsor: Champagne Moments Wedding Cars.

Tonight (Thursday) Ballyclare have a Conference League match against Armagh 2.

The main talking point in Ballyclare 4s Junior League clash with Dungannon 4 was the appearance of the Johnston father and son combination in the pack.

Club president, Gareth Johnston, celebrated his 52nd birthday by pulling on the boots to play alongside his son Ross, who is a Ballyclare High School student.

Another BHS student, James Beattie, marked his debut with a brace of first half tries that kept the scores level at 12-12 at the break.

In the second session Bob Wasson got his name on the scorecard in the 19-12 win, with Gary Clotworthy contributing two conversions.

Ross Johnston, Matthew Dailly and Michael Kirk starred in the pack, while Clotworthy and Trevor Clarke impressed in the back division.

This win cemented a safe Section 5 mid table position for Mark Fox’s lads with four fixtures remaining, but they face a tough assignment when they line out against promotion chasing Ballymena 4 in the quarter-final of the Forster Cup on 22nd at The Cloughan.

Meanwhile, the 3rd XV has been relegated from Junior League Section 3.