Black Knights start new year with a convincing win
By STEPHEN NUTT
Skipper Thompson leads the way!!
A strong Holywood squad containing a few former Ards players wanted to put on a good show in front of a significant home support, and that commitment led to some testing early exchanges that set the tone for a physical game that Ards would need to work hard to get anything from.
The scoring duck was broken on the 15 minute mark as Ards’ power forwards started to get some go forward with a series of strong carries. Dowey, Dawson, Cullen and Thompson took play into the Holywood 22 before the backs showed their passing skills. A great transfer from right to left started by Carroll and Kisby in the halfback slots saw Webster and Adair put further pace on the ball and then fullback Warnock provided the link before Bale Taibawalu held his width brilliantly to run in and dot down for a simple yet beautiful textbook try, the conversion was missed. H’wood 0 v Ards 5
The restart initially went well with Ards earning a scrum, Ards lined up for an attacking play when disaster struck, McKeag’s hook was too pure on this occasion rocketing out from the base the ball fell favourably for the Holywood scrum half and with the Ards backs out of position he was able to run in a score totally against the run of play. H’wood 5 v Ards 5
This blunted Ards’ attacking instincts and they went to the maul to re-establish control. Jack Coulter was having a fine return after a lengthy sabattical and from a good Coulter line out take Ards got the maul trundling into Holywood territory. Kisby and Webster attacked the tight lines before the ref signalled a penalty for offside from the defending hosts. Carroll split the posts to take Ards to 10-5.
Having settled the nerves slightly, the black men went through the gears once again, Thompson, Cullen, Dawson and Coulter were all testing the home defence and as their attention turned to the big Ards ball carriers, Carroll picked his moment perfectly. The tempestuous number 9 dummied and broke at the perfect moment before using his pace to carry through the covering defence and dot down for a 15-5 lead.
The Black Knights were in the ascendancy and as their improved discipline allowed them to build territorial advantage and maintain possession it was only a matter of time before the Holywood defence would crack. A missed touchline kick fell to winger Richard Kiernan and great to see his sumptuous sidestep and pacey return getting Ards back into the danger zone. On this occasion John Dowey acted as playmaker with a deft draw and pass releasing centre Ewan Adair to score an unconverted try.
Halftime: H’wood 5 v Ards 20 who had too much pace for the Holywood backs.
With a huge effort going into the game this far it was important to rotate the squad. Initially Chris Bridge provided an injection of pace into the backline and later the old warhorses McFarland and Stevenson provided some additional nouse to the forward pack.
Dawson and Coulter were pressurising the Holywood lineout and Thompson in particular was profiting from the scraps, picking up loose ball and getting Ards over the gainline.
From such a turnover Ards attacked mercilessly and when the ball eventually made it to Webster in midfield he finished with aplomb to ensure the bonus point for the men in black. H’wood 5 v Ards 25
Holywood were determined to give the home crowd something to cheer and attacked with renewed vigour. Ards had to defend for a lengthy period and in some regard the goal line stand in the final quarter was Ards most impressive element of the match as the visitor’s big black wall remained impenetrable.
As Dawson turned over another ball on the Ards tryline, the Black Knights went on the counter attack, Kisby made the initial break and then passed to Webster, with Bridges and Carroll in support, Ards kept the attack going and incredibly Matt Warnock appeared having sprinted 75 yards. The Rubane flyer had just enough energy to get on the end of the pass and put the icing on the cake by scoring an end to end try which brought the game to a fitting finale.
Final score: Holywood 5 v Ards 30