I’d been looking forward to this match for a while. Unfortunately fate and atrocious weather conspired to make it less spectacular than it could have been, but it was a fine match nonetheless.

With one photographer away photographing penguins in the Antarctic and another entertaining old friends I thought I’d try and cover the first half of this game and the second half of the, equally intriguing, game at the top of Championship 2 between Academy and Limavady.

The first half of this game was brutal, but in the right way. In difficult conditions, a strong wind, rain and hail, both teams decide to keep it simple but, in a match where space was at a premium, both sides really, really wanted to dominate the contact area and, more often than not, space was ignored and contact the preferred option.

It wasn’t a great game for photography with most of the action happening amongst a host of bodies but it was entertaining. There will be a few sore bodies on both sides today.

Instonians made the initial breakthrough, starting strongly and playing into the prevalent wind they slowly worked their way into the Ballyclare 22. A change of pace and a few quick rucks, with Paul Marshall pulling the strings, ended with Mark Mairs bursting over the line for the opening score.

The visitors kept the ascendancy for the next couple of plays but as conditions worsened the dominant wind forced the bulk of play to the other end of the pitch.

Ballyclare hammered away at the Instoninas defence for a solid 20 minutes but everything played into strengths of the visitors big pack and they kept their line intact for the remainder of the half, though there were a few close calls.

With Instonians leading by 5 at the break and with the wind now at their backs I was expecting them to increase their lead as I headed off to my second game.

However it was the home side that recorded the only score of the second period, moving the ball through the hands following a searing break from deep by No. 8 David Clarke. A defensive scrum in the Instonians 22 was turned over by the Ballyclare pack and Robert Boyd went over for the equalising score, the conversion attempt coming off the posts.

The force of the relentless collisions eased somewhat as the game went into its final quarter and with defences dominating there were no further scores with the game ending at 5 – all.

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