Rugby: First defeat for Ballyclare

Instonians hold on to record a 24 - 22 against table toppers Ballyclare in the Ulster Rugby Championship D1 match. PICTURE: Richard Owens
Instonians hold on to record a 24 - 22 against table toppers Ballyclare in the Ulster Rugby Championship D1 match. PICTURE: Richard Owens

Instonians inflicted the first Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship defeat of the season on Ballyclare on Saturday afternoon at Shaws Bridge.

Instonians dominated the opening quarter with second rows Sean Shuttleworth and Alan Whitten both scoring tries, converted by Andy Keane, to give the home side a 14 – 0 lead.

Ballyclare’s Michael Kirk took advantage of poor defence on the left to race clear in reply with Robbie Reid converting to close the gap to seven points.

However the lead was back to 14 points at the break when a grubber from Paul Marshall kicked up for Matt Kilpatrick to gather and scamper under the posts, Keane again converting.

The visitors showed better form in the second half, mauling over for a try from Paul Robinson before an individual effort from Willie Stewart made it three tries each. Crucially, both second half conversions were missed leaving Ballyclare trailing 21 – 17.

Instonians respond almost immediately with a Keane penalty to stretch the lead to seven points which was just as well as Ballyclare’s Owen Kirk crossed out wide for the visitors fourth and bonus point try with just over ten minutes remaining. However the conversion was again missed leaving Instonians two in front.

It was a nervy final ten minutes for the home crowd but Instonians held on to record a memorable win.