Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Ballyclare yet to rediscover golden touch

Ballyclare III just came up short in a dramatic clash against Larne II in Section Two, going down 20-19 after Andrew Alexander missed a conversion in the closing stages.

Ballyclare junior teams have not shown the dominance that they had last season when they accumulated a number of trophies and the thirds have been really effected by the requirements of the more senior teams.

Ned Laird, the PRO, said: “The seconds won their first game against Carrickfergus 13-3 but then the firsts deprived them of five players when they lost to Omagh 22-20. On Saturday they were also weakened but also lost hooker Kyle Norton through injury and that was a big handicap as there are no replacements.

“Then we had a player 'sin binned' so we had 13 players on the pitch and Coleraine seconds took full advantage running in two tries.”

Coleraine ended up comfortable winners 26-5, their third success in four outings.

On Saturday, Larne II took the lead after two minutes when speedy winger Ricky Bergin made ground to off-load to Ian McAuley who touched down.

The visitors conceded a number of penalties and Alexander kicked two before Larne scrum-half Ricky McIlherron broke from the base of a line-out and ran across the pitch for Bergin to score and Ryan Gabbey to goal. Alexander had his third penalty to reduce the arrears to 9-12 at the interval.

It was closely contested throughout but Larne went further ahead when, from a five metre scrum, right winger Tom Field squeezed over on the narrow side. Gradually Ballyclare started to combine better and pressure was rewarded with a try from prop David Tweed but the conversion attempt hit the post.

The score was then 14-17 but a penalty by Gabbey increased the advantage to six points.

The home team dominated the final minutes and when out-half Ivor Bayne cut through to go under the posts it looked as though it was a formality of the easy conversion for victory.

The full-back's last attempt had been so close that maybe it was still on his mind but he missed and Larne held on for a narrowest of successes.