Ballyclare 10 UUC 11
Game of the day in section 2 was Ballyclares home game against league leaders U.U.C. was a must win for both teams. Despite leading early on against the students in the game sponsored by Reid, Black and Company, the Clare side went down by a single point 11-10 as U.U.C. dominated the second half. It looks as if the title will go to either U.U.C. or Omagh. Both have edged clear of the Ballyclare in the current league table.
On Saturday Ballyclare had the wind advantage in the first half but a well organised and very fit U.U.C. team made hard ground to put the home side under pressure. Good work by back row trio of Smith, Dillon and Millar forcing Clotworthy who was at out half to clear. A tackle by S.Morrow halted another attack by centre Johnny Henry and Byers managed to clear. But the pressure from the visitors pack front row of Wilkinson, Stevenson and O’Neill led to a penalty to U.U.C. but Murphy missed.
Clotworthy kicked to the 22 and after the visitors were penalised, the home team made ground through Clotworthy and Weatherup to put prop Boyd over for a try which was converted by Collie Morrow. The students rose to the challenge and weak tackles by the home team allowed the Uni to make ground through centre Winder and it took a superb covering tackle by Clotworthy to stop winger Rowden scoring a try. Then Collie Morrow kicked ahead and Byers followed up to be held up near the opposite line by fullback Millar. A break by Morrow and Weatherup was promising but the ball was kicked away. Another run from Baird looked promising but Reid failed to hold the pass. Following a clearance by the Students Reid was stopped near the line and U.U.C. temporarily lost capt Murphy to injury, and also wing forward Dillon who pulled a hamstring. But the Clare failed to make use of the situation and U.U.C. broke away, great handling from the backline put Hall away, stopped on the 22,quickly recycled ball by second row Darren Leonard led to the home defence going off side to concede a penalty for only for Millar to miss from a good position so it was still 7-0 to Ballyclare at half time.
In the second half the league leaders had wind advantage and used it intelligently with Winder and Millar pushing ballyclaire deep into their own half, though the first chance fell to Morrow who missed a penalty from a good position. The next U.U.C. attack following well won lineout ball from Millar led to pressure forced by imperious no8 Smith led to a penalty and this time jamie Ball slotted over the kick to make it 7-3. The Clare came back immediately and a fine penalty from Morrow gave his side a 10-3 lead. An error by Baird almost let the visitors in and Big second row Hendley should have scored but Ballyclaire’s Logan recovered possession. However the home team failed to clear the danger and U.U.C. played multiple phases and moved the ball out wide to winger Hall and he beat the Clare defence to score on the left side with the conversion wide . This made it 10-8 and the students started to exert more pressure. Yet a long range penalty by Morow was well off target after the Clare pack had made ground. Again the students forced an error in the home defence enabled the visitors to make ground into the home 22 by Smith attacking the blind side but Clotworthy did well to clear. The deciding score of the game came when the Clare pack was penalised after failing to cope with pressured work from the student front five and then Millar the fullback had won a ball he had no right to get to, was illegally hauled to the ground, this time Ball again was on target with the penalty to take the lead at 11-10 for the first time.
From this stage of the half it was the league leaders who had courageously fought back were now dominating with Man of the match Andrew Winderand wingers Rowden and Hall going close and only for strong home defence especially by Logan,Coburn,Jackson and Clotworthy the margin could have been greater. Emense forward drives from Oneill, Leonard and Wilkinson deserved a score but Claire cleared time and time again. The home team tried to run the ball from deep positions however they were unable to get out of their own 22 and the U.U.C. centres Winder and Henry and full back Millar cut them down ruthlessly on each occasion. The final whistle came giving the students the double league victory over an excellent Ballyclaire team and the all-important 4 points to try and keep pace with title favourites Omagh.
Ballyclare Team-G.Byers; J.Reid, J.Jackson, S.Morrow, J.J.Baird; G.Clotworthy, C.Morrow; A.Boyd, A.Wylie, M.Finlay; K.Johnston, M.Crothers; G.Weatherup, W.Logan (capt.), C.Coburn.
University Team – G Millar, C Rowden, A Winder, J Henry, S Hall, L Murphy, J Ball, J Wilkinson, S Stephenson, M O’Neill, D Leonard, J Henley, O Millar, P Smith, J Dillon.