Gritty Ballyclare show mettle through the rain
Continuous rain throughout the whole game led to many unenforced errors which resulted in 38 scrum – yes 38 of them –but Ballyclare thirds still managed to fight back and narrowly defeat Rainey thirds 20-14 in Junior 3 at Doagh Road.
Ballyclare were eight points ahead in the first five minutes but full credit to the visitors who came back to warrant a 14-8 interval advantage. A lot of possession and following a number of phases winger Peter Beasant crossed for 'Clare's first before Andrew Alexander added an easy penalty.
Rainey began to improve and with their pack ably led by veteran Declan McKenna they gained the upper hand in the scrums although Ballyclare were winning cleaner line-out ball. Rainey attempted to play open rugby, even from their own half, and this led to lots of handling mistakes and in consequence they forfeited territory.
They had a number of new recruits in their team with No 8 John McKenna, hooker Richard Fowler and centre Mark Montgomery showing up well. Paddy Kidd, who was their Man of the Match, had plenty of pace on the wing although he had few opportunities to show it.
They reduced the arrears in the final six minutes of the first period when quick service from a five metre scrum by Conor Magee allowed out-half Kenny Irvine to power over before Declan McGuckin charged down a kick for the second. Irvine goaled both to make it 14-8.
After the restart Ballyclare adapted better to the worsening conditions and dominated the possession with back row forwards Matthew Crothers, Michael Kirk and captain Chris Gawn showing their strength and determination. The home team narrowed the gap with a well executed try.
Full-back Stephen Beasant sliced through the defence but was brought down just short. Quick ball was obtained and Crothers crashed over.
Towards the close a Rainey defender was yellow carded and Ballyclare took advantage when centre Johnny Reid cut through and brought play to within a couple of metres of the line. Stephen Beasant was on hand to score beside the posts for Alexander to convert.
Ballyclare's three-quarters of Reid, Stephen Beasant and Ricky McAdam all adapted well to the ground conditions but it was Crothers who was adjudged their man of the match.
In the other Junior 3 game contested Limavady seconds had a 30-20 win at Belfast Harlequins thirds. All in all it was a disappointing afternoon for the Deramore Park club as their firsts lost at Dungannon 22-12, the seconds were without a game and their fourths were defeated by CIYMS fourths 55-0.