1st XV Ballyclare Away
Lisburn Frighten League Leaders Ballyclare
Ballyclare 16 – Lisburn 13
At Ballyclare last Saturday, a fired up Lisburn 1st XV, sponsored by Smiley Monroe, nearly caused the upset of the season in losing narrowly to the League leaders. Following their rather dismal performance against Omagh in their last game they felt they owed themselves a big effort and right from the start they threw themselves into the game with full abandon. Ballyclare may have been unbeaten in the league, and also Junior Cup finalists, but it was Lisburn who drew first blood when following fierce drives on the Ballyclare line, centre David Gilkinson broke a tackle to score near the posts. Unfortunately, the conversion failed but Lisburn were 0-5 up to give them great heart for the rest of the game. Ballyclare responded within five minutes of the restart with a simple penalty but David Scott restored the five point margin with a similar effort a few minutes later to make it 3-8.
Lisburn were making light of the gluey underfoot conditions and up front the other three Gilkinson brothers, Mark, Aaron and Jonny – it is not often a first XV can put out four brothers – were making hay with the home scrums. On the thirty minute mark the visitors had another opportunity to increase the lead when a deft crosskick from outhalf Ross Edgar, one of another pair of brothers in the team, almost reached the outstretched hands of outside centre David Scott with the line beckoning, but a knock on ensued to save the day for Ballyclare. Just as the half was petering out, Ballyclare broke up-field to the Lisburn line and put severe pressure on the visitors defence but some great tackling and rucking of the highest order kept ‘Clare out and their only consolation was a penalty in front of the post which brought up the halftime score of 6-8.
David Irwin the Lisburn coach and Captain Pete Graham encouraged the team during the interval and Lisburn came out with renewed self belief. However, using the stiff breeze at their back, Ballyclare set their stall out almost immediately. A long kick into the Lisburn 22 saw Lisburn lose the resultant lineout and one of the strong-running Ballyclare backs broke a tackle to score. The conversion put them into a 13-8 lead and the big Lisburn support wondered if the home club’s free running backs were now going to demonstrate why they were at the top of the league table. However, Lisburn kept them in good check but had to forego another penalty on 25 minutes to stretch the gap to 16-8. Ballyclare now seemed to think the job was done but Lisburn renewed their attacks with vigour and for ten minutes were camped inside the home 22. Eventually the pressure told and when scrumhalf Chris Knox spotted an overlap outside he quickly moved the ball out to winger Adam Melville who dashed into the corner to score. The conversion was again missed but with five minutes remaining, and the score at 16-13, Lisburn knew that they still had an opportunity to cause an upset. Alas, while trying their best to make a break through, ‘Clare held their line intact and a further missed 40 meter penalty was all Lisburn had to show.
This was a great game of rugby which Ballyclare were very glad to win but it did show Lisburn that they should not fear any side in this league. Next Saturday they take on Academy at Blaris, another team from the upper echelons of the table and will be encouraged by this display. The Lisburn 3rd XV, following their 27-17 Forster Cup quarter final defeat to a strong Ballymena 4s team, will be eager to get back to winning ways with a home game against Dungannon 4s.