18 Jan CI Improve For Ballyclare Bonus
CI came into this away game looking to improve on a patchy performance and win against Cooke. Despite weather concerns in the run up to this match, the pitch and conditions were excellent for open rugby with only a moderate wind.
CI started brightly with a crunching tackle off the kick off by Ross Hackney. A dominant first scrum from the resulting knock-on provided a good platform for attack. Captain Woods opened the scoring from one of the next phases, stepping through the initial tackle and cover defence to ground the ball.
Ballyclare responded with a penalty to open their own account.
CI were moving the ball well through their patterns and excellent hands by Ross Hackney off another attacking scrum sent Michael Wilson clear near the photographer in the left corner for a picture perfect finish.
The CI line out was also functioning well with accurate throwing by hooker Bacon, good movement and a threatening maul platform. A tip tackle off the ball on Wilson reduced Ballyclare to 14 men and the resulting kick to the corner was eventually finished by Mark Scott, who expertly rolled the final tackler to make the line.
A dominant first half was finished with a CI bonus point as hooker Bacon took a shadow line behind the initial CI attackers to take the ball under the posts.
The messages at halftime focused on sustaining the effort and possession that CI had enjoyed in the first half.
Ballyclare started brighter in the early stages but it was CI who scored next. A break from distance by Neil Wallace released Michael Wilson who was tackled short of the line. Ross Hackney then attacked the gain line from good depth to crash over for the try.
Ballyclare then enjoyed a good few phases of possession and earned themselves a consolation try on the left flank.
However, CI were not done with the scoring and Ricky Greenwood scored the third try of a good day for the CI front row when he squeezed over in the right corner after repeated phases. The game played out with the CI defence containing Ballyclare in their own half, the final score at 36-8.
Overall, this was a greatly improved performance from CI with solid set piece and greater team cohesion for most of the game. Further improvement will be necessary ahead of the visit of league leaders Instonians to Belmont in two weeks time.