Instonians will join their “clubmates” Cooke RFC in the Junior Cup Semi Finals after beating a determined Ballyclare 28 -17 at Shaw’s Bridge on New Year’s Eve in front of a good sized crowd.
It was a dour enough opening half hour, Ballyclare enjoyed the lion’s share of territory and possession but the defences were on top in the early stages and few chances were created.
As happens in tight games, it took a bobbled pass by Instonians’ Davy Scott to open the Ballyclare defence from deep in his own half. Scott took it on to halfway before unleashing Bevan Prinsloo who sprinted clear to finish under the posts. Ricky McCarthy added the extras and Instonians had an unlikely 7 – 0 lead just past the half hour mark.
The try seemed to give Ballyclare a bit of extra impetus and they replied fairly quickly with a try out wide by Joel McBride after a good break by Mark Jackson. The conversion was missed but Ballyclare went in front minutes later when the roles were reversed as McBride sent Jackson clear for the young full back to round the Instonians defence and finish under the posts, to add his own conversion, taking the score to 7 – 12 in Ballyclare’s favour at half time.
Ballyclare had looked the most sprightly in the first half but Instonians started to grind them down on resumption. An early penalty try to Instonians set the tone and put Instonians into a 14 – 12 lead.
It got worse for the visitors, minutes later, when their hooker was yellow carded for a high tackle and then Instonians rumbled over from a 5m scrum. Matthew Keane and Ali Burke looked to touch down simultaneously as the scrum rumbled over the line but we’ll give it to the Larne man Burke who looked to be already celebrating before Keane got his hand on it. McCarthy added the extras and Instonians lead increased to 21 – 12.
As Instonians looked to their forwards so Ballyclare looked to their backs and they got some reward with the hard working Scott Martin battling over out wide within 10 minutes, taking half a dozen defenders with him. No conversion, but with the score now at 21 – 17 it looked like we were going to get an exciting final 15 minutes.
However, Ballyclare were still celebrating when Prinsloo slid over for his second, within a minute of the restart, and, with McCarthy landing his third conversion, it looked a long road back for the Hare’s with the score now 28 – 17 in Instonians’ favour.
Ballyclare lost a bit of their composure as they chased the two score lead and Instonians defended their line well in a five minute period of intense pressure. The game ended without further score to see Instonians progress into the semi finals of the Junior Cup.