Ballyclare have made a promising start in Qualifying 1, but they found Saturday’s trip to Fivemiletown one hurdle too many when they lost 27-0 to Clogher Valley.
Coach Chris Campbell had to make several changes in the pack for the long trip south. Willie Logan switched to lock, while Montgomery and Tweed came in for Holmes and Gary Weatherup at hooker and wing-forward respectively.
In the back division there were starts for Tom Wilson and Dave Clarke, while Robert Smith continued to deputise for fly-half Niall Lawther.
While Robert Boyd’s lads put in plenty of effort they succumbed to the clinical finishing of the seasoned home outfit.
On a gloomy afternoon the floodlights were on throughout, but the spotlight was mainly on the home side.
Ballyclare started promisingly, pinning Clogher in their own quarters, but in their first foray up-field the hosts opened the scoring, when a well rehearsed routine from a scrum produced a try that was goaled.
Boyd’s lads enjoyed the major share of possession and territory, but failed to penetrate a resilient defence, so they turned round trailing 7-0.
Eight minutes into the second session Clogher increased their lead when they pinched the ball from a lineout and crossed for an unconverted score.
Incisive runs by winger Wilson and Smith raised Ballyclare hopes, but there was no end result, and all thoughts of a comeback vanished when Clogher advanced to 15-0 with a penalty.
The Clare scrum had been under pressure all afternoon, and when the home eight drove deep into the 22 a third try was the outcome, courtesy their number eight who picked up an dived through the cover.
In the closing stages the fitter home side’s winger sprinted clear from halfway, to secure the coveted fourth bonus point-winning try, so even with both conversions missed Clogher finished comprehensive winners.
The 2nd XV continued their recent good form with a 67-7 win against CIYMS II, while the Thirds suffered a heavy 42-0 defeat in Donaghadee.
Fixtures: Banbridge III v 2nd XV; 4th XV v Lurgan II.