Ballyclare show ruthless edge
Ballyclare's promotion push maintained its momentum following a high-scoring win at Grosvenor on Saturday afternoon.
The Kukri Qualifying 2 table-toppers ran in eight tries, four in each half, with free-scoring winger Adam Wardrop crossing the whitewash an incredible five times.
Grosvenor managed two tries in the second quarter but could not recover from a horrid opening 20 minutes, during which they conceded four scores.
After the win, Ballyclare captain Robert Boyd was focusing on the crucial three weeks ahead for his side as they aim to continue their unbeaten season.
He said: "We're 11 from 11 now with seven to go but we need to not look too far ahead. We have two tough games coming up against Lisburn and Randalstown, and then a really big one against Omagh at the start of March.
"We started really well today and played some great rugby in the first 25 minutes of the game but then maybe let our foot off the gas a bit. We missed a few soft tackles but credit to Grosvenor for coming back."
And on the five-try heroics of Wardrop, he added: "He's been doing that all season, whether it's from the wing, full-back or centre. He's a class act with great feet and great pace."
There were only four minutes on the clock when out-half Niall Lawther broke from deep but was abruptly stopped.
He did however find Gary Weatherup, who in turn released Graeme McKinstry. The lock had ran a strong support line allowing him to cross in the right corner.
Wardrop got his first of the day five minutes later after strong work from Willie Logan, David Crawford and Weatherup had advanced the ball inside Grosvenor territory.
Ballyclare's third score came in the 19th minute with Wardrop again finishing.
With several men over to his left, Lawther's attempted cross kick would have resulted in a score if not for it catching a strong wind, but the visitors retained possession and the ball was popped up for Wardrop, who streaked through to score.
Robert Smith's conversion ensured 'Clare had racked up 19 points in as many minutes.
And the bonus-point score came just moments later with Wardrop completing his hat-trick in the process. A strong break from Smith was just halted by Ben Coard but the centre could only watch as Wardrop rounded the corner and crossed the line.
Despite the four-try blitz, Grosvenor had still performed adequately in several facets of the game and solid work at the set-piece produced their first response of the afternoon.
A strong scrum allowed number 8 Matthew Cahoon to pick up at the base and break through several would-be tacklers to score.
Just before the half, Grosvenor added another try following a scrum. This time, Ballyclare were pinged at the set-piece and, after taking the penalty quickly, Neil Adams wriggled his way over the line.
As the game entered its final quarter, Ballyclare regained the form they had displayed in its first and ran in four more tries.
Wardrop displayed good hands on the touchline as he held on to a pass and burst through to score.
And his personal tally would be complete with 10 minutes remaining as he went over in the right corner for the fifth time.
Ballyclare would still find time to add a further brace of scores, however.
First a quick tap-and-go penalty by Colin Morrow allowed the scrum-half to stretch over the line and then Grosvenor had no way of halting a strong run from David Lawther in the final moments.