A hardy group of supporters endured the cold to witness an entertaining match that started with Ballyclare pressing Lurgan’s defence with a decent centre pairing who ran hard and straight at opposite numbers Stanczack and Johnston who were typically solid in the tackle.
A turnover ball in the Ballyclare half was scooped up by winger Jamie Clarke who jinked his way through the opposition to score a superb individual try. Jordan McLwaine slotted the conversion from a difficult angle to put Lurgan 7-0 ahead after 10 minutes.
Ballyclare were awarded a penalty shortly after the re-start but couldn’t convert the kick at the first attempt however a couple of phases after the re-start they again were awarded a penalty and the out half scored from in front of the posts to secure three points.
With the Lurgan pack strong in the scrum and able to pick off the Ballyclare line out the visitors were forced to try and run the ball form deep to maintain any possession and from one of these plays Lurgan disrupted at the ruck with the in form Mathew Laird hacking the ball forward and winning the foot race to touch down to put Lurgan 14-3 as McLwaine impressed again with the conversion.
With Andy Stevenson and McLwaine distributing the ball to great effect Lurgan were able to launch the imposing Mathew Johnston on the Ballyclare back line, with raucous support from the side lines the big man knocked over three defenders to plough his way over. McLwaine added the conversion with a superb strike from only 5 meters from the touch line to give the home side a 21-3 advantage.
The remainder of the half saw the Lurgan packs ball carriers, Goode, Lyness, Keys, Bingham and Laird tormenting the visitors and the spirited defence and attack that Ballycalre had started with began to wilt.
Their only clear chance to trouble the Lurgan line was shut down by brave defending from Andrew Watson who had his best game to date for the home side. Full back Dawson was also ever on hand to tidy up any kicks and it was he who started the move which gave Lurgan their fourth try before half time.
Dawson, Clarke and Johnston all combined to allow Stevenson to score a trademark try stepping off both feet to weave his way over the line. McLwaine kicked the conversion Lurgan 28 Ballyclare 3 at the break.
Lurgan coach Jason Wallace asked the players to close the game out in the second half and to work hard to ensure no further points were conceded.
Danny Lyness set out his stall by smashing the opposition attack with a couple of crunching tackles and before long Lurgan had gotten themselves a penalty in Ballyclare’s half. Mclwaine kicked for the corner to allow the Lurgan line out to pile on the pressure, Like Pete Martin who started at hooker replacement Luke Thompson hit his jumper Lyness with accuracy and Lurgan set up a text book maul with skipper Wellwood in possession at the tail the Lurgan men rumbled over the line and were unlucky to have the score ruled out by the referee as held up by Ballyclare.
The resulting scrum was secured by the Lurgan pack with Boyd, Cameron Lyness and Dessie Bingham rock solid. Mathew Laird scooped the ball from the scrum and rumbled to within a foot of the line, the busy Lurgan pack secured the ruck and Stevenson’s vision spotted a huge gap in the visitors defence for Dessie Bingham to gallop over to score a well-deserved try his first for the side and just rewards for another excellent performance from the big prop. Mclwaine kicked the conversion.
Coach Jason Wallace with the victory secured rang the changes and flanker Laird moved to the centre, the Ballyclare side wilted visibly at the site of him rampaging through their ranks and the big man scored a fine try from a break within his own half charging to line and dotting down in the corner with Wellwood in support. McLwaine from the left touch line narrowly pulled the conversion his only miss of the day.
From the re-start Lurgan played clever rugby with Stevenson kicking ahead for Danny Lyness and Jamie Clarke to chase with the line at their mercy the referee penalised Lurgan for being in front of the kicker however the resulting Ballyclare line out was disrupted again by the Lurgan jumpers organised brilliantly by Paddy McVeigh.
The recycled ball was whipped out to Johnston who linked up with Clarke to allow Clarke to get his second score. Lurgan 47-3.
With 65 minutes of the 80 played Ballycalre had had enough and the referee agreed to allow one more play before blowing the match up early, this spurred Danny Lyness to show off a brilliant piece of athleticism and power by busting through the opposition leaving flailing defenders in his wake only a troublesome calf strain slowed Lurgan’s star player down and allowed the full back to stop the big man from getting another score.
The game finished 47-3 to Lurgan, joint man of the match went to Jordan McLwaine and Mathew Laird both of whom are developing into class acts to rival any player in the division.