CIYMS give their title foes a reason to take notice
CIYMS 43-13 Ballyclare
CIYMS grabbed the attention of Kukri Qualifying One's title contenders with a six-score demolition of Ballyclare at Belmont on Saturday.
The visitors from County Antrim, while a newly promoted squad, came into the contest on the back of impressive victories over Bangor and Dromore so far this season but were no match for a C.I side who had banked their four-try bonus point by half-time.
It is easy to be overly effusive after results early in the campaign but, having also beaten Cooke, new coach Gareth Fry seems to be moulding a team capable of building upon consecutive top four finishes.
After the resounding win, captain Gavin Woods once again stressed that there was still more to come from his side.
"I don't think we've reached our peak," said the prop.
"We can be a force if everyone buys into what we're doing and gives that extra 10 percent.
"That's the difference between going top four and potentially that wee bit further.
"The first half was probably as good as it gets, we were showing a lot of energy and a lot of control.
"The second half was a bit closer but for us to win both halves and win by that margin is certainly satisfying."
C.I, who have no game this weekend thanks to a Junior Cup first round bye, will take on Instonians when Q1 action resumes during the first week of October and supporters of both teams will already be relishing what is to be a mouth-watering clash between the league's only remaining undefeated sides.
On that contest, Woods said: "We have a week off so it's good recovery time for us.
"As a senior side they're obviously going to be looking to bounce straight back but we're just taking everything one game at a time."
It became apparent that the game may not be as close as first expected just two minutes after kick-off when C.I quickly grabbed the game's first try.
The home side utilised a number of pick and goes to advance the ball before the great line ran by Stuart Fergusson opened up the Ballyclare defence and the hooker unselfishly offloaded the ball to Harry Howard on the left wing for the score.
The second try didn't take much longer and arrived after just nine minutes – sandwiched between two Robert Smith penalties for Ballyclare – when a strong scrum came to a slightly ragged conclusion but was tidied up by Michael Wilson and Mark Scott, allowing Baker and Andy Hodgen to combine in an effort to send inside centre Matt Butler over the line.
With the game only entering the second quarter, and despite having lost Baker to the sin bin, C.I scored again when another charge by Fergusson was stopped just short but Mark Scott was able to muscle the ball through a considerable Ballyclare presence and over the line.
Ten minutes later and it was the visitor's turn to be reduced to 14 men when David Clarke saw yellow for a high tackle inside his own half and Baker knocked over the subsequent penalty for a 22-6 lead.
The bonus-point try improbably arrived just before the turn when yet another backline move saw the ball worked out to the right wing, where Neil Wallace had little room to work with but produced a fine step to beat his man and score in the corner.
Baker added the conversion and the home side were 23 points ahead at half-time.
They almost began the second period even quicker than the first but, after Scott Dowle had gathered the kick-off, a sparkling exchange of passes had Harry Howard sprinting clear only to be controversially adjudged to have stepped in touch.
The fifth try would come soon after however when, after good work from Peter Raine, Baker ran off his shoulder and stepped inside Niall Lawther to score.
Despite this setback, Ballyclare improved in the second half, and substitute Willie Logan scored their only try of the game when he combined well with Gary Weatherup, but it was to prove a rare reason to cheer.
Their frustration at the afternoon's events was summed up when Clarke passed the ball straight out of play and C.I smartly took the line-out quickly to allow Baker to score the final points of the game.
Injuries to Wallace, Hodgen and Butler may slightly temper the enthusiasm of the victors but, with a weekend off before they meet Instonians, there is plenty of time to recuperate for the big clash ahead.