RUGBY: Ballyclare lift Towns' Cup with win over Portadown
BALLYCLARE 27 PORTADOWN 6
Ballyclare won the Towns Cup with a comprehensive display against Portadown in wintery conditions at Kingspan Stadium.
It was Ballyclare’s first outright victory since 2004 and the first time they had lifted the trophy since sharing it with City of Derry in 2013.
Two tries before the break killed the game as a contest.
It tops a great season for coach Mike McKeever as he led the club to runners up spot in the league and also guided Ballyclare High School to Subsidiary Shield glory.
With former Ulster prop Ricky Lutton in the front row Ballyclare won a scrum penalty and out half Robert Smith opened the scoring after two minutes.
Portadown levelled immediately when they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and out half Mark Adamson slotted over the easy kick.
Adamson gave Portadown the lead on 13 minutes when he landed his second penalty from long range.
Smith tied the scores on 28 minutes when he landed a penalty from straight in front of the posts.
Ballyclare got the game’s open try on 32 minutes.
Smith tried to put a kick in behind the Portadown defence but sliced it fortunately the ball sat up for winger Stewart Cusick and he made ground into the 22 before offloading to Paul Robinson, the flanker smashed through a couple of tackles before showing power and pace to hold off another few defenders to slide over which Smith converted.
Smith landed a penalty on 37 minutes after Portadown went off their feet at the breakdown.
Ballyclare extended their lead with the final play of the first half, Portadown conceded a five metre scrum, the Co Antrim side controlled the ball worked it through a few phases before hooker Matthew Coulter barged over.
Smith couldn’t convert and Ballyclare went into the interval with a 21-6 lead.
Smith was on target with a penalty 10 minutes after the restart to increase Ballyclare’s lead.
Ballyclare wasted a good chance to get another try when they were awarded a penalty on halfway and kicked to corner, they went to the front at the lineout and controlled the ball for a couple of phases before knocking on.
Smith landed a long range penalty on 65 minutes as the Ballyclare pack continued to dominate.
Portadown had scrum half Brian Forristal yellow carded on 75 minutes for a trip on Ballyclare captain Grant Bartley as he chased a grubber kick.
G Clotworthy, S Cusick, R Reid, J McBride, M Kirk, R Smith, A Eastop,
R Henderson, M Coulter, R Lutton, R Boyd, G Bartley, P Robinson, G Weatherup, D Clarke
D Jones, R Scott, A Playfair, N Lawther, O Kirk
L Ashton, C Megarity, J Matchett, J Holden, C Woods, M Adamson, B Forristal
M Henderson, P Lamb, M Wilson, W Graham, M Muldrew, G Hall, J Taylor, D O’Kane
M Davison, L McClure, T Johnston, A Abraham, D Whitten
Ref J Peake