Black Knights defeat Grosvenor
By STEPHEN NUTT
Black Knights & Grosvenor play out a great warm up match prior to the big game at the Aviva
Saturday 17th November 2018 will go down in the history of Irish rugby as the Ireland team defeated the all-conquering All Blacks; the game at the Aviva Stadium was an absorbing affair with seven points separating the sides at the end of a compelling contest. So it was at Hamilton Park as the Black Knights of Ards engaged in an enthralling duel with a strong Grosvenor side who had suffered only one loss this season.
With a strong wind coming off Strangford Lough towards Scrabo, Ards decided to play into the elements in the first half and started to build momentum. Strong carries from Captain David Thompson and his trusted lieutenants John Dowey and Gary Dempsey got Ards over the gainline. Fly half Alex Gaw deployed Oren Kisby on a tight line and following quick ball at the breakdown, scrum half Andy Matchett spotted a gap on the blindside. The veteran’s instincts are as sharp as ever and he had no trouble in dotting down to give Ards an early lead. Gaw added the conversation to the cheers of the large local support. Ards 7 v Grosvenor 0
The Ards lineout was going well with hooker Davy Reid hitting his main jumper Sam McVeigh. Ards were starting to exploit this area of superiority and built several impressive driving mauls forcing the Grosvenor defence backwards allowing backs Taylor Nutt and Michael Taylor to exploit the wider channels. Having surged into the Grosvenor 22, flanker Matt Bell took over with a powerful carry taking him over the line to score. Gaw added the extras with a great strike to double the Ards lead. Ards 14 v Grosvenor 0
At this point Ards had established control but a disastrous five minute spell undid the good work of the opening half hour. First of all, from an attacking scrum Ards looked likely to score their third try when an unfortunate loss of control meant the ball ended up in the Grosvenor winger’s hands who was able to score an intercept try. This was effectively a 14 point swing and seemed to send Ards into shock, as they lost all their previous poise and swagger. On the other hand, the visitors had rediscovered their mojo and were now throwing themselves into attack sensing Ards’ weaknesses Grosvenor quickly scored their second try, and converted to tie up the scores. Ards 14 v Grosvenor 14
The half time break allowed Ards to gather their thoughts and with the introduction of Jonny Dawson and Adam Curry made an early impact in the opening stages of the second half. The Ards wingers Chris Bridge and Ben Thompson were able to take advantage of the conditions and use their kick chase game to put pressure on their opposite numbers. This helped gain field advantage and when Ards drew a penalty just inside the Grosvenor half, skipper Thompson asked his young fly half to restore the lead. Gaw was in good form and yet another great strike split the posts to give the Ards lads a slender lead. Ards 17 v Grosvenor 14
Within minutes however a series of decisions gave Grosvenor field position and the chance to level the match once more with a well struck penalty. Ards 17 v Grosvenor 17
Skipper Thompson had seen enough and with a few well-chosen words, the Ards pack responded. The lineout continued to provide Ards with good possession and McVeigh was regularly stealing opposition ball. Ards returned to the maul and from one of these drives, Dowey peeled off to crash over and give Ards a lead that they would not lose. Gaw converted to maintain his 100% kicking return on the day. Ards 24 v Grosvenor 17
Following one of Bell’s customary breaks he linked with Matchett and the legendary number nine sidestepped the cover defence to score Ards’ fourth try and secure the bonus point. Ards’ twelve point lead didn’t last long as Grosvenor snaffled a loose pass to make it a one score game. The crowd were delighted with the quality entertainment on show but Ards regained composure to close out the game on the attack for a well deserved 29-22 victory.
On a day of history for Irish rugby, at the hometown club two tries from one of Ulster’s history making European cup winners were the key in delivering a victory and setting the tone for a memorable day for local rugby fans.