Rugby returned to The Cloughan on Saturday with Ballyclare on the wrong end of a 55-7 scoreline.
Last season’s top four league finishers and All-Ireland Junior Cup finalists, Bangor were the visitors.
It was coach Mike McKeever’s first game in charge and the weather and pitch conditions were excellent. Unfortunately, from a Ballyclare perspective, that’s where the positives ended.
With 15 minutes gone, following an early missed penalty attempt and a missed scoring opportunity due to a knock-on, Bangor roared into life.
Showing early signs of dominance at the set-piece, Bangor elected to scrum when Ballyclare infringed on their own line. Bangor drove the Clare pack back and touched down right of the posts.
They were quickly on the score board again, when their number six, Bradford, chipped the ball over the Ballyclare defence, and with a fortuitous bounce the ball was gathered and touched down for a second try.
Clare’s Gary Clotworthy narrowly missed a long-range penalty attempt midway through the half.
Then a sweeping backline attack by Bangor, started inside their own 22 resulted in a third try.
Bangor’s pacey winger Widdowson added a fourth to leave the Ballyclare trailing 24-0 at the break.
The visitors continued to punish Ballyclare mistakes in the second session, adding three further scores before a good break by Clotworthy and pass to the supporting Stuart Cusack resulted in Ballyclare’s only, consolation, try of the day. The conversion was added by Byers.
Bangor added another score before the final whistle to finish the game 53-7 winners.
Bangor were worthy winners and look certain to compete for honours again this season.
A shell-shocked ‘Clare side will look to address the errors at training before next week’s match, when Portadown visit The Cloughan.
Ballyclare XV : D Lawther, R Scott, A Boyd, R Boyd, A Neill, R Johnston, G Weatherup, W Logan, C Morrow, N Lawther, S Cusack, S Bailie, G Clotworthy, R Tweed, G Byers. Replacements: M Finlay, J McKinstry.