Ards do double over Lisburn
By STEPHEN NUTT
Ards 1sts followed their away win against Lisburn earlier on the season with a convincing home win.
Ards 1sts welcomed Lisburn 1sts to Hamilton Park last Saturday for their latest Kukri Ulster Championship League 2 fixture. There were again a number of changes to the side as the coaching team continues to give exposure to the wider squad at this level whilst managing their growing injury list. A start was handed to teenager Robert Hull at flanker and forward Matthew Bell took a place on the bench.
In the backline, Michael Lawton took the inside center berth, with David Armstrong joining him after a return from injury. As was the case the week before, 8 of the team were aged 22 or below as the club builds excellent foundations for the future.
Ards received the kick-off playing towards Strangford Lough in what were great conditions as the adverse weather forecast chose not to materialise. The home side has prepared well in training and had a good warm up, hitting good form from the start.
Good territory was gained and held as Ards tested the visitors defence with excellent runs from the forward pack and probing lines from the backs. After being twice repulsed by a committed Lisburn defence, good numbers were gained to the left and the ball moved out to full back Aaron May, who sidestepped the advancing cover and ran in for the opening score after 10 minutes the conversion from fly-half Paul Cox was good. Ards 7 v Lisburn 0
Maintaining their tempo, Ards again ran through their patterns and again found the visitors’ defence in aggressive mood. However, their territorial advantage soon told and one forward pattern too many released hooker Tom Arthur Donnan to run in under the posts from the 22, Cox added the extras. Ards 14 v Lisburn 0
Sensing Ards were about to cut loose, the large crowd watched expectantly, but a combination of good kicking from Lisburn and inaccurate options by Ards laid waste to good possession as the second quarter produced nothing and the half closed off at 14-0.
After some half time redirection, Ards took to the second half well, although the opening 10 minutes saw Lisburn produce their best rugby. Despite this, the Ards red zone was not threatened. The home scrum was now in complete control as the Lisburn pack was visibly tiring, matching their near flawless line out display. This first phase dominance was to be the platform to push through for the reminder of the match.
Turning over a Lisburn lineout on their 10 metre line, Ards scrum half Alex Hendrickse grabbed the loose ball and ghosted through their recovering forwards, outpacing the defence to score, Cox again added the extras. Ards 21 v Lisburn 0
Receiving the restart, Ards moved upfield swiftly and within 2 minutes, flanker Paddy Bond was left with 2 to beat and a big blind side to work. Accelerating around the cover, he took a fine score out wide, the conversion was missed. Ards 26 v Lisburn 0
Moving to the boot again gave Lisburn some respite and it took until the final quarter for the Ards first phase to again provide the platform for a score. Working their way into the visitors’ 22, Ards no8 Graeme Taylor burst off the back of a scrum and fed Hendrickse; Cox timed a straight run perfectly to collect the pass and crash over for Ards’ fifth try; Cox converted. Ards 33 v Lisburn 0
Lisburn were not to be outdone and pushed back again as Ards’ defence remained disciplined. Eventually faced with nothing but a kicking option, the Lisburn center sent a speculative kick through the Ards cover. This was chased well by the Lisburn winger, the home defence was just pipped to the ball as Lisburn took an unconverted. Ards 33 v Lisburn 5
Ards were left to have the final word as a slick backline move released center Lawton to swerve through the opposition cover and score under the posts. Cox’s successful conversion was met with the final whistle and a fine victory to Ards by 40 points to 5.
Ards now take a welcome rest before travelling to Larne in the league. By this stage there should also be a number of players fit to return and provide for difficult selection decisions as the depth of the Ards senior squad continues to improve