A tantalising East Antrim derby close to home was the ideal opportunity for another dip into the Ulster Rugby Conference D1 this season as I made the short journey to The Cloughan to watch Ballyclare entertain Carrickfergus on Saturday afternoon.

As a Larne man it does pain me to say that both teams served up an entertaining game with Carrick, perhaps, a touch unlucky on the scoreline.  😯

The visitors did start very brightly with David Carse crossing within 2 minutes of the kick off as Carrick played into a strong wind. Ballyclare enjoyed territory and possession for the next ten minutes but a determined Carrick defence and some quite poor passing kept them off the score sheet until Joel McBride crossed out wide to finish up under the posts. Robbie Reid added the conversion to give Ballyclare a two point lead.

However, within minutes, that man Carse was diving over in the right hand corner to put Carrick back in front by three and the tit for tat continued as the hirsute Arron Playfair crashed over for a converted try for Ballyclare to retake the lead at the end of the first quarter.

A rather sedate second quarter followed with Joel McBride’s solo effort from the half way line the only score leaving the teams turning round with the scoreboard reading 21 – 10 to Ballyclare.

Carrick now had the strong wind at their back but any thought s of a comeback were quickly dashed as McBride crossed for his third to be followed by Niall Lawthar soon after to move the score along to 31 – 10.

The visitors kept plugging away and clocked up a try bonus through scores from hooker Alan Whitley and wing forward Robert O’Callaghan interspersed between tries number six and seven for Ballyclare with Willie Logan and Robbie Reid both crossing, Reid converting both.

Final score: Ballyclare 45 Carrick 22