Dromore RFC and Ballyclare could not be separated on a chilly winter’s day at Barban Hill. Dromore opened a 10 point lead at the break, but the visitors clawed it back in the second half.
The opening stages of first half were played between the 22s with both sides making errors. John Russell had a chance to open the score with a penalty on the ‘Clare 10m line but despite a good strike, the kick slid wide.
John Cullen got the first try of the game with a neat chip behind the onrushing defence. He regathered, before dotting down underneath the posts. John Russell added the extras. 7-0.
Dromore continued to threaten, but the final pass often went astray. They had another opportunity to extend their lead through the boot of John Russell, but he was off target once again.
Ballyclare never really troubled Dromore in the first half. Anytime they got momentum a knock on thwarted their progress and were forced back by good Dromore defence. As the half grew to an end, another penalty attempt slid wide.
Dromore put pressure on Clare, but didn’t have the cutting edge and handling errors often cost them. Ballyclare managed to put together several tight phases, likewise Dromore did, but on both instances the moves broke down through handling errors.
Just before the break, Ballyclare lost a man to the bin due to persistent infringing. John Russell knocked over the resulting penalty from the left to give the home side a 10-0 lead at the interval.
At the start of the second half, Dromore had defending to do, but it was resolute. Ballyclare found space down their right, but Sammy Russell supplied a great covering tackle. Nevertheless the away side won a penalty and converted, to close the gap to 10-3.
Dromore struggled to get their hands on the ball at the start of the second half and Ballyclare began to crank up the pressure.
They had a dominant maul that they often received penalties from, but weren’t able to use it to cross for a try.
Ballyclare’s dominance paid off when their out half stepped inside to score under the posts.
The conversion was successful and levelled the scores up, 10-10. Dromore looked rattled and needed to get their hands on the ball to rebuild the confidence.
Ballyclare kept Dromore pinned back in their own half with good kicking and the home side struggled to escape. Any time they managed to kick clear, Ballyclare came straight back at them.
Dromore managed to get their hands at the end of the second half and looked to build something with strong forward running from George Wilson off John Cullen.
While the move resulted in nothing, it allowed Dromore to relieve the pressure once more.
It proved to be the last action in the game as the referee blew the tight affair to a close.