River Rock Towns Cup defeat for Ards
By STEPHEN NUTT
Poor discipline and inconsistency costs Ards
Ards 1st XV travelled to Randalstown on Saturday for the opening round of the River Rock Towns Cup.
There were again a number of changes to the team on the day. Gareth McBurney was promoted from the bench to start in the second row and with flankers Ryan Thompson and Onisi Burekama both absent, Danny Patton and Jonny Harris took their places in the back row. Paul Cox was brought into the backline to cover the injured David Armstrong.
The pitch at Neillsbrook is very narrow and soft and the home team's gameplan is well practiced to suit.
Ards started by far the stronger of the two teams and dominated possession in the first quarter, although the lack of width in the playing surface made for very slow progress and frequent kicking to try and gain any territory of note.
After 15 minutes, prop Matt Kane had to leave the pitch with a broken nose and was unable to return, with centre Trevor Devlin taking over at hooker. As the first quarter was ending, skipper Andrew Foster was yellow carded for an exchange with his opposite prop after a scrum and a number of penalties later, the home team had scored the opening try in the corner for a 5-0 lead.
The remainder of the half remained even and no sooner had Foster returned to the field of play, but Devlin was also shown a yellow card for a high tackle on the Randalstown winger.
Having played half of the first period down to 14 men, Ards were still unfortunate to trail 5-0 at the break.
Starting the half with the minor advantage of the slight camber on the pitch, Randalstown enjoyed better territory. A Randalstown attack saw Ards fail to reload a defensive pillar quickly enough and the home side nipped through from a ruck on the 22 to take their second try, converted for 12-0 lead.
Ards were contributing little in attack but their defence was slightly better and just as some stability was coming, fly half Mark Banford was bizarrely yellow carded for moving the referee out of the defensive channel, where he was blocking the Ards defence.
Reduced again to 14 men, Ards’ defence was eventually breached at the end of the third quarter and the lead moved out to 19-0.
The rest of the game played out in a disjointed fashion as the match official's interpretation and inconsistency dominated the flow of play, with a penalty goal to the home side providing s final score of 22-0.
Unfortunately, a day of few positives or highlights for either side.
Ards will be glad to finally resume a regular schedule of league games starting this Saturday at home to Limavady