Despite both teams having won their respective group stages, with no seeding this year, the top two clubs in the Championship 1 league at the moment, met in the quarter-final of the Junior Cup at Mullaghmeen last Saturday, when Skins hosted Ballyclare.

The Antrim side won the All-Ireland Junior Cup last month and are the current holders of both the Ulster Junior Cup and the Towns Cup and they showed their quality by winning out 38-21.

Both teams like to run the ball and with little wind and dry conditions, they served up an excellent game of rugby, that Ballyclare would win in the end.

They started strongly, repeatedly running hard at the Skins’ defence, before moving it to the wide channels, and opened up a 14-point lead in the first quarter, with two converted tries.

They pressed for a third but determined Skins’ tackling held them out before the home side scored two tries of their own.

The first started inside their half when Sam Balfour fielded a kick near the left touchline and set up a ruck, from which the ball was transferred through several phases to Ben McLaren on the left wing.

He carried deep into the opposition's half and then chipped the ball into their 22.

Ballyclare ran it back but were turned over on the 10m line before Jack Rutledge charged back into the 22 and from the rucked ball, Eddie Keys put in a cross-field kick which Balfour, who had started the sequence, collected to scamper over with Keys converting.

From the restart, Skins exited well, Mattie Dane box-kicking to the visitor's 10m line and the chasers turned the ball over near the right touchline.

Andrew Johnston Martin carried well and then the ball went wide to Daire Hill to set up a ruck between the 10m line and the 22, on the left.

Eddie Keys broke to the blindside and Jack Rutledge took it on.

On the way back Hill had stepped into the 10 slot and Eddie Keys looped outside him and then fed it back inside to Harry Ingram, who broke the line.

With a two-on-one against the full-back, he passed to Daire Hill, powering through to the line but was stopped just short. But Neil Rutledge was on hand to pick up and crash over and with the conversion the sides were level.

Skins had the momentum now and were dominating possession and territory. Ballyclare were relieved to get the ball into touch from a penalty and bring the half to a close.

Ballyclare kicked off the second period and earned another penalty just inside the Skins half, in the centre of the field.

They went for the posts and missed, but the Skins’ clearance didn’t find touch and they ran it back left and right before touching down in the corner. The conversion was missed but Ballyclare regained the lead.

It wasn’t for long though as Henry Keys broke blind from a scrum near the Skins’ 22, making 20m before feeding Sam Balfour to carry it into the visitor's half.

The ball came left, where Angus Keys carried into the 22. Skins mauled a 5m lineout and then continued to attack around rucks formed following another penalty before Dane fed Keenan to force his way into the left corner.

Keys converted from the touchline for Skins to take the lead for the first time at 21 -19.

Ballyclare struck back immediately, forcing play into the Skins 22 and scoring an excellent try in the left corner. It was unconverted, to leave the score at 21-24, with a quarter of the game to go.

There was a stalemate for the next 10 minutes before Ballyclare scored in the left corner again.

It was converted to push the lead to 10 points and two scores needed.

Skins pressed hard but were not to score again.

The match finished 21-38 when Ballyclare touched down a grubber kick and converted with the final play.

Next up is Cooke at home in the league on Saturday.