1st XV have great win at home to League Leaders Ballyclare

Instonians win tight “top of the table” contest against Ballyclare at Shaw’s Bridge

Instonians 24 – Ballyclare 22

Date: 2-30 pm Saturday, 1 December2018

Venue: Shaw’s Bridge. Belfast

Fixture: Ulster Rugby Championship Division 1

Conditions: Dark, dank day but dry throughout the game

Ballyclare travelled to Shaw’s Bridge as league leaders having won all six of their fixtures to date with bonus point wins - giving them the perfect 30 out of 30. Instonians were in second place but 7 points adrift of the leaders. For Instonians it was a “must win” contest. A defeat would have put them would have left them with a lot of ground to make up.

Gareth Burns Delaney was out through injury and, with Ross O’Donnell still unavailable through suspension, this allowed Donal Moloney to make his first start on the wing for his new club. Matt Kilpatrick was back in the centre with Paddy Bell moving to flanker at the expense of Johnny Mooney, who had to be content with a place on the bench this week alongside Tom Matthews, who also had to make way for the experienced Alan Whitten -available for selection again in the second row.

Although Ballyclare kicked off and had a penalty in their favour after just one minute it was Instonians who started with a bang. First Ballyclare were pulled for a “not straight” at the line out and then were penalised when the ensuing scrum collapsed. A further penalty at the breakdown brought Instonians into the Ballyclare 22 for the first time. Another penalty for a collapsed maul yielded another line out 10 metres out. Instonians mauled from this and then big second row Sean Shuttleworth detached from the maul and made an unstoppable charge for the line to score his side’s first try. Full back Andy Keane’s conversion put the home side 7-0 up with less than 10 minutes on the clock.

Back came Instonians from the restart. A Paul Marshall box kick was retrieved to allow captain Davy Scott to make a scything break up the middle - leaving an array of players in his wake. Another try looked certain until a Ballyclare hand managed to intercept what would have been a scoring pass. The trouble was not over for Ballyclare as they were penalised at the breakdown to allow Instonians to maul again right up to the line. Another infringement on the 5 metre line allowed Instonians to launch another series of attacks. When they eventually moved the ball wide it looked like Ballyclare might survive but they were penalised again for “holding on” in the tackle and Instonians were back with a 5 metre attacking line out. Same outcome different player. This time it was fellow second row Alan Whitten who supplied the finishing touches to score his side’s second try. When Andy Keane added the conversion Instonians were 14-0 up after just 17 minutes. Ballyclare had hardly seen the ball and must have wondered what had hit them.

Another penalty in their favour had Instonians back on the attack. First number 8 James Martin made a storming charge up the middle; this was followed by an equally impressive gallop by prop forward John Andress. This cleared the space for another clean break by Davy Scott. As the pressure mounted a knock on by Instonians allowed Ballyclare to turnover the ball. For the first time they had some decent possession. They moved the ball wide to the touchline and a couple of missed tackles later their left wing Michael Kirk was sprinting up the line for a well taken try. The conversion made it 14-7 with 22 minutes on the clock. Ballyclare had shown just how dangerous they were when they had the ball.

Instonians were soon back on the attack. Another big charge from James Martin allowed centre flanker Paddy Bell to make a clean break. The scrambling Ballyclare defence went “off their feet” at the tackle and Instonians were back on the rampage. This attack only ended when Instonians knocked on to give Ballyclare a relieving scrum. A penalty against allowed Ballyclare to kick for a line out inside the home side’s 22. A clever move at the front of the line out caught Instonians napping and almost yielded a try for the Ballyclare hooker Matthew Coulter. Ballyclare battered again and again on the Instonian goal line but a knock on gave the ball back to Instonians and allowed Paul Marshall to kick clear. Another penalty in they favour brought Instonians back into the Ballyclare 22. They set up the customary maul and drove the away side back. This time Instonians varied their attack cleverly. Paul Marshall put in a delicate little grubber kick in behind the Ballyclare defensive line. The ball sat up to allow centre Matt Kilpatrick to gather and dart in for a try at the posts. The Andy Keane conversion put the score at 21-7 with 33 minutes gone.

Ballyclare enjoyed some possession after the restart but they wasted it when a line out throw inside the Instonian half was adjudged “not straight” to allow Instonians to regain possession. Paul Marshall made another lightening break after a maul which was carried on impressively by Sean Shuttleworth but a knock on in the tackle allowed Ballyclare to see out the half with the score remaining at 21-7 in Instonians’ favour.

It had been a very impressive half by Instonians against the league leaders. The line out had functioned smoothly, with number 8 James Martin showing his athleticism at the tail. He was ably supported in the line out by flanker Massimo Kiri Kiri, who was also proving very dangerous with ball in hand. This all made for a very potent back row as flanker Paddy Bell was showing himself to be no slouch both in attack and defence. The scrums were dominant with Ballyclare clearly struggling to secure their own ball and also incurring the referee’s disfavour.

Instonians were clearly expecting a reaction during the second period from the league leaders. They more than held their own for the first few minutes with Ballyclare making little headway with the ball in hand. Then a couple of small errors started to cost Instonians dearly. Two line outs were called “not straight” by fine margins. Then the dominant scrum was penalised as Instonians pushed forward. A second scrum with an Instonians put in 15 metres from their line was also penalised. This gave Ballyclare the perfect platform. They mauled from a line out 5 metres out and drove over for an unconverted try on 52 minutes. The score was now 21-12. Four minutes later they were on the scoreboard again. This came from an unlikely situation of tit for tat kicking by both sides. A kick ahead was not well dealt with out on the touchline. Ballyclare gained passion and ran through a couple of would be tacklers to race in for a try from near the half-way line. This try also went unconverted when the ball hit a post and bounced out, but it was now very much “game on” with the score at 21-17 and the last quarter of the game to go.

From the restart Ballyclare knocked on and were then penalised. There was a hold up when Instonian skipper Davy Scott had to be helped from the field with a bad calf injury. Johnny Mooney came in to the back row and Paddy Bell moved to centre. Andy Keane then took a shot and goal from the penalty some 40 metres out and in front of the posts. This was the first time Instonians had aimed for the “sticks” from a penalty in the game and clearly showed that they needed an insurance policy. The kick was good and Instonians edged 24 -17 ahead.

Both sides now tended to favour a kicking game and exchanged some “ping pong”. There was a sense that this was favouring Ballyclare, as when the opportunity presented they started to run back loose kicks. For Instonians it would have been better to go for a more structured game and aim for touch and then rely on their powerful pack at close quarters. Ballyclare were looking dangerous when they had the ball and held it through the phases but the Instonian defence was effective until they were penalised at the breakdown on the Ballyclare 40 metre line. Ballyclare won the ensuing line out and simply held the ball well through phase after phase. Eventually Instonians ran out of defenders and Ballyclare’s big wing Owen Kirk was able to slip in for a try in the corner. This gave them their 4 try bonus point but the try went unconverted and Instonians were still in the lead 24-22 with about 12 minutes to go.

The rest of the game was a tense affair, especially for the home supporters. Both sides were making small errors as they tired. First Ballyclare lost a line out after a penalty. Then Instonians were pulled up for a “not straight” at a line out on their own 22 to hand the initiative back to Ballyclare. Ballyclare attacked through the phases but then knocked on themselves to give a scrum to Instonians. Ballyclare were “freed” at this scrum and Instonians were able to see out the remainder of the game, although they had to endure one more break by Ballyclare which came to nothing after a knock on.

Although Instonians had led throughout the game and were in a commanding position at half time they were unable to “kick on” in the second period which largely belonged to Ballyclare. They will be happy enough with the close win, although when the dust settles they will be disappointed not to have secured the bonus point for 4 tries. From a Ballyclare perspective they managed to secure the maximum they could from a defeat with a four try bonus point and a loser’s bonus point for being within 7 points. The gap at the top has now narrowed to 5 points. Next week Instonians move on to Carrickfergus away.

For more discussion, interviews and analysis of the Instonians' match and round up of other Kukri Championship games and general rugby waffle, listen in to the weekly 'Loose & Tight Rugby' podcast on Soundcloud (via Twitter or Facebook).

The weekly podcast features London-based former Instonian prop forward Ross Mungavin chatting to his Dad Steve, himself a former prop now turned alikadoo, providing a unique view of rugby from the front row.

Next week Instonians move on to Carrickfergus away.

Team 1 to 17: Conor Gallagher, Cameron Barr, John Andress, Alan Whitten, Sean Shuttleworth, Paddy Bell,

Massimo Kiri Kiri, James Martin, Paul Marshall, Richard McCarthy, Donal Maloney, David Scott, Matt Kilpatrick,

Colm Cregan, Andrew Keane, Johnny Mooney, Tom Matthews.







Next matches:


Sat 8th Dec

Carrickfergus 1st XV v Instonians 1st XV

Need a huge travelling support


Sat 29th Dec

Instonians 1st XV v Cooke 1st XV

Always a cracker

Big pre-match Lunch

To book your spaces contact:

Ken Bamford

0783 466 5095

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Future Fixtures



1st XV

2nd XV

3rd XV

8th Dec

L - Carrickfergus (A)

L - Clogher Valley (A)


15th Dec


L- City of Armagh 3 (A)


19th Dec (Wed)

Instonians U20s Christmas Blitz at 7pm

Instonians U20s Christmas Blitz at 7pm

Instonians U20s Christmas Blitz at 7pm

22nd Dec


29th Dec

L - Cooke (H)


L - Cooke 2 (A)

5th Jan

L - Coleraine (A)

L - Coleraine 2 (A)


11th Jan (Fri)

L - Dromore (19.30) (H)


12th Jan


L - Malone 3 (H)

L - Larne 2 (H)

18th Jan (Fri)


L - Carrickfergus 2 (19.30) (A)


19th Jan

L - Enniskillen (H)


L - Ards 2 (H)

26th Jan



Forster Plate QF