Clogher Valley 13 Ards 0 Clogher Valley produced a determined performance as their battle to climb up the table continued on Saturday with a 13-0 win over Ards at the Cran.

This was a tough and tight encounter with Cobain’s try in the first half helping Clogher into an 8-0 half time lead.

It was a tense affair after the break with Ards always in contention up until Breen touched down in the corner late on to secure a hard fought win for the side from the Valley.

“We were coming off a long lay off since before Christmas so to get back to competitive action with a win is very pleasing. The game was very much in the balance at 8-0 but the boys raised their game and we’re happy with the win,” said Clogher coach, Davy Black.

Clogher remain second from bottom in the table but the win does open up a 14 point gap to bottom placed Ards whiule Clogher now only trail Cooke by a single point with another crucial game coming up this Saturday against a Dromore side who are two points in front of Clogher in the table.

“If we can keep getting four pointers and keep getting the wins then I know that things will look after themselves. For us it is simply a case of taking it one game at a time and this week we have a game at home to Dromore. They are always hard to beat but they are a side in the bottom of the table and this is a game that we need to be targeting,” he added.

The opening exchanges of Saturday’s game were to see the Valley in the ascendancy.

Trotter pinned Ards back with a great box kick to set up the first chance. A strong driving maul was held up but a subsequent penalty gave rise to more optimism. Lineout option chosen, and on this occasion executed to perfection with Cobain getting the touchdown. No conversion but five points up after six minutes, the Valley were in a good place.

And that was made even better nine minutes later when Trotter converted a penalty to stretch the lead to eight.

Clogher went on to dominate possession and territory for the remainder of the half. On four different occasions Clogher were held up over the line by a determined rear guard action by the visitors.

The Valley were a bit one dimensional in their approach and played into the hands of a well drilled defence. Full back Wilson was Clogher’s best player in the first half and its main strike option but he needs to be brought closer to the action when it counts.

There were shenanigans in the front row as the six from middle earth tried to outdo each other. The referee spoke to the Ards front row on several occasions but yet there was no sanction and the war of attrition continued. The Valley has perfected the front row replacement option and when Moore enters the fray it has a dramatic effect. Ards though held on and many Valley supporters were wondering why has this side no points because this was as tough an encounter as you would wish for.

An intercept when Clogher looked destined to score gave them a chance but Wilson turned and chased down the Ards winger to deal with the break out.

The second period was much of the same Clogher held the whip hand but Ards were always in the game.

A strong Ryan Wilson break almost made the line but he was hauled down just short, minutes later Agnew made a great run through the Ards defence but he too was snarled short of the line.

An Ards scrum disintegrated as the Valley took one against the head, this led to a series of big carries that had to result in a score but Ards were up to the defensive challenge.

Eventually Clogher were awarded a penalty in front of posts, on this occasion they choose the scrum option. Ards were waiting for the normal Valley strike but Agnew worked a ‘wrap around’ with Breen and squeezed in at the corner for a deserved try. No conversion but with time ebbing towards the 80 minute mark it had to Clogher’s day.

The Valley returned to the offensive after a superb Sharkey break which rounded off one of the best performances ever seen in the Valley colours. His domination in the lineout was sublime turning over Ards throws continually and he was always on hand when the going got tough.

Ards are a proud club and never gave up, they chased a losing bonus point to the end but Clogher managed to hold on to win this important encounter.

Next Saturday its home to Dromore, 2.30pm kick off.