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Remember the date, Saturday 8th October 2021. A very depleted Grosvenor 1st XV, shorn of 5/6 starters, were facing an ambitious and talented Ballyclare XV. The game started at an electrifying rate with Ballyclare playing fast, accurate and indeed , very watchable rugby. Grosvenor were under the cosh in most areas apart from the lineout , which performed really well against a much taller and stronger unit. A series of driving mauls, eventually resulted in the Ballyclare winger scoring out wide, a try which was excellently converted by the left footed out half. 7-0 to the visitors. Under pressure, there seemed an inevitability and another penalty in front of the posts, increased Ballyclare's lead to 10-0. Grosvenor, with little possession, nevertheless narrowed the gap to 10-6, with two long range penalties from Tim McMullan. This half time score seemed unlikely but as swift and skillful as the Ballyclare backline was, there was a renewed belief in the home defence, which was knocking down man after man of a frustrated visiting team. They did increase their lead to 15-6, but another McMullan penalty brought it to 15-9. The losing defensive BP was removed shortly after as Ballyclare scored their 3rd try, again unconverted, to lead 20-9. As Ballyclare strove to get their bonus point try, goalkicker McMullan scored a try from distance, something very similar to Robert Balacoune's effort for Ireland vs USA. He converted his own try for a 16 point personal haul and a very edgy visiting team were content to take the spoils at 20-16.

I started by asking you to remember the date as this LBP may play a very important part in the season ahead. As unexpected as it might have been, it was earned by sheer doggedness and an unswerving mindset to tackle everything that moved. Many individuals played their part and on other days, would have easily put their hands up as a candidate for MOM, but with his 16 points, my MOM goes to Timmy McMullan.


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