LISBURN 10 BALLYCLARE 8
The Lisburn team which faced Ballyclare last weekend
The Corus sponsored Lisburn took another positive step up the Qualifying League at Blaris last Saturday when they took four valuable league points against visitors Ballyclare.
This was a match that Lisburn knew they would have to work very hard for as the previous week the 'Clare team had given Division 1 high flyers Cooke a strong run for their money before succumbing to a late killer punch in injury time.
Lisburn, with player coach Mark Crothers back at outhalf after injury and Number 8 Andy Hamilton also back after injury, attacked strongly from the outset but Ballyclare were getting the early possession and continuously probed the home backline. On twelve minutes they worked an overlap for their speedy right wing and suddenly they were 0-5 up.Lisburn kept their shape after this setback and the solid defensive network that they have been working on since the start of the season was strongly in evidence. They came more into the game after the first quarter and on twenty minutes their patience was rewarded. A dart into the corner by winger Simon Gardiner provided their first points and Crothers increased it to seven with a great conversion from near the touchline. 7-5.
The two evenly matched teams battled it out for the remainder of the half to leave Lisburn ahead at the interval by a valuable two points.
The second period commenced with the front row of Dickson, Graham and Jefferson providing a solid platform in the scrums where hooker Graham took a few balls against the head. The combative
Lee and Hughes in the second row ensured good pressure in the rucks and mauls while the back row of Hamilton at No 8 and Kidd and Thompson on the flanks cleaned up any attempted breaks around the fringes as well as keeping the opposition half backs in check. The line outs were fruitful picking for the home pack where Lisburn always seemed to win their own ball but the Ballyclare backs were proving a skilful lot on the run and it took solid defending to keep them at bay. However it was the kicking of the visiting team which eventually let them down. Throughout the game they conspired to miss three comparatively easy penalty chances and while they did kick one, Mark Crothers also kicked another penalty and Lisburn maintained the two point gap to the end of the game.
Nicky Craig at scrumhalf played with authority throughout and Crothers, at outhalf, put his centres Gibb and Kindred into space on numerous occasions. The back three of Dawson, Melville and Gardiner were always a threat on the break and have gelled well into the Lisburn backline both in offence and defence. This was a well deserved if somewhat fortuitous win, bearing in mind the poor Ballyclare kicking record, but nevertheless it was well earned and the spirit of the team is continuing to grow under the coaching of Bruce Cornelius and Mark Crothers.
There will be tougher matches ahead but with the morale continuing to rise, they have nothing to fear from any of the teams in the league.
On Saturday the 1st XV have a free date while the 2s, 3s and 4s play Ballynahinch 4s (home), Ballymoney 3s (away) and Belfast Harlequins 4s (away).