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Carrick now clear favourites to clinch league crown

Ronnie Ingram

If there was a prize for the most improved team in junior rugby, Carrickfergus III in Junior Five would be one of the main contenders.

Their 60-0 victory over Ballymena IV in the top-of-the-table clash was a phenomenal result and they are now the firm favourites to win the title.

The heavy success was somewhat unexpected, as Ballymena had already defeated them 21-12 in their first league encounter as well as proving much too strong in the Forster Cup (23-6) at Carrick.

Also, Carrick could only defeat bottom of the table Dungannon IV 29-12 and the penultimate side Banbridge IV 45-7.

As their seconds didn't have a game on Saturday, they may have been permitted to use some of their players but some will remember that the same Carrick team defeated Armagh III in the semi-final of the Forster Cup 8-5 last season and were later disqualified.

On a brighter note for the Eaton Park club, their V's are still undefeated in Junior Six after a 46-10 win over Ballymoney IV. They still trail Portadown IV by two points but have three fixtures in hand.

Ballymena V's opponents in the Forster Cup semis will be Ballyclare IV, who defeated Dungannon IV 19-12, also in Junior Five.

President of the club, 52-year-old Gareth Johnston, was in the pack with his 18-year-old son Ross, who scored for Ballyclare High in their Schools' Cup defeat of Ballymena Academy.

This was young Johnston's debut and he made an impression, as did James Beattie who has been out of school for a year.

Centre Beattie ran in two fine tries and Bob Wasson, brother of the injured John, added the third for former Ulster Junior Gary Clotworthy to kick two conversions.

Captain Mark Fox said: "Ross Johnston and Michael Kirk in the back row, along with second row Matt Dailly, all put in a lot of work while Gary Clotworthy and Trevor Clarke were dangerous in the backs.

"This win will boost our confidence before the upcoming cup tie against Ballymena. Thankfully, we have home advantage."

Dungannon had a try from No 8 Jeremy Baird after five minutes which was goaled by Matthew Morrow, and they then levelled to 12-12 by the interval with a Jackson Ranji try in the corner.

* A HAT-TRICK of tries by Bangor Grammar No 8 Matthew Agnew helped his team to a 37-7 win in the Danske Bank Medallion Bowl final at Grosvenor Grammar.

Agnew scored two first half tries and Daniel Young converted one to give Bangor a 12-7 interval lead. Charlie Blair and Adam Norman were next to touch down before Agnew added his third. Young had two conversions and two penalties while Simon White added the points to Lewis Bell's try for the High School.

Belfast Telegraph

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