RUGBY: Weekend of defeats for Cloughan men

Rugby update
Rugby update

FOUR Ballyclare rugby teams were in action last weekend but none managed to raise a winning flag.

The seniors were knocked out of the Junior Cup, while the Seconds, Thirds and Under-19s lost their league fixtures.

When Mo Finlay's 1st XV were reduced to 14 players for a time in Belfast against Malone II in the Junior Cup, the hosts capitalised on their numerical superiority to win a high-scoring match 41-35.

The first half ended with Ballyclare in the driving seat at 18-17; winger Chris McIntyre scored in his debut, with centre Gary Clotworthy crossing twice, while full-back Gareth Byers added a penalty.

In the second half touchdowns by Clotworthy and wing-forward Gary Weatherup, plus a Byers penalty, took the 'Clare score to 35.

This was good enough for a slender one-point lead with time running out, but the home full-back raced from his own line the length of the pitch to score a dramatic winning converted try.

For the third week in succession Ballyclare have had a player sin-binned.

Top performers for Ballyclare were Willie Logan at number eight, lock forward Robert Boyd and fly-half Niall Lawther.

The Seconds went down 26-5 to Coleraine II at Sandel Lodge, but according to club officials this was not a fair reflection of play.

Centres Stuart Cusack and Robert Smith were prominent in the early exchanges, while wing forward Nigel Moore was seldom out of the thick of the action, and they were rewarded with the opening score by Smith.

Two home scores and a penalty gave them a 15-5 lead at the break, and they pressed home their advantage in the second session with two penalties and a try.

When Kyle Norton retired injured and Ross Scott was sin-binned the hosts made the extra men count.

A missed conversion in added time meant the Thirds suffered a 20-19 defeat to Larne II at The Cloughan.

Three Andrew Alexander penalties kept the home side in contention at the interval when the seasiders led 12-9, having scored two tries, one of which was converted.

Early Larne pressure in the second session reduced the deficit to 14-17, but the visitors pulled away with a penalty to lead 20-14.

Fly-half, Ivor Baine, made a couple of penetrating runs for Ballyclare but lacked support, and then in added time he seemed to have set up a win.

He cut through the defence again to score at the posts, and with his side trailing 19-20 the conversion seemed a formality, until Alexander uncharacteristically missed his attempt.

The Under-19s lost 34-7 in an Ulster Under-19 League fixture, with Billy Gillan scoring his side's only try.

Tommorrow (Saturday) the seniors entertain a resurgent Randalstown side that has already beaten Larne and Carrick, so a keen encounter is anticipated. The only other match involves the 4th XV who travel to UUC II to fulfil a Junior League fixture.