Ards 1st XV 10 Clogher Valley 1st XV 15 Clogher Valley moved up to sixth place in the Championship Division One table and to within five points of fifth placed Enniskillen with a fifth successive league win on Saturday away to Ards.

Valley’s upturn in form - one which has seen them win eight of their last nine games in all competitions - has lifted them up the table and they are hoping to continue to build on this in the weeks ahead.

“The way we are going at present, we want to push on and push on. The boys are working hard in training, they are playing good rugby and they are showing positive signs. Given our current form we are probably the team that others don’t want to play at the minute,” said coach Davy Black.

Saturday’s encounter against bottom placed Ards was a tough encounter but Black was delighted to see his side grind out the win.

“We were very happy to get the win against a stubborn Ards side. Yes, they got their first point of the season on Saturday but they I’m sure that they will take points of other teams before the end of the season. From our point of view, it a a game played in tough conditions and we had to grind it out. The boys stuck at it and we’re pleased with the win.

Clogher fielded four changes from the starting line-up of the previous week. Out were Robinson, Breen, Orr and Wilson in came Whyte, Ellis, Falconer and McKenna the younger.

Despite their precarious league position Ards always make it very difficult for visiting sides.

This was a game of contrasting styles, Clogher were in complete control in the forward exchanges but with what possession they could muster Ards were inventive, accurate and very dangerous in their back play.

The game opened with a few minutes of sparring and a few of shadow boxing as the combatants sought the measure of each other. On the five minute mark Clogher grabbed the initiative; a 20 metre driving maul was halted illegally and Trotter pushed the visitors deep into the Ards red zone. Perfectly executed line out and drive gave the Valley a chance of first blood but it was held up over the line. The Valley made no mistake from the resulting five metre scrum though. The Ards pack was shunted back and Ryan Wilson was on hand to grab the opening try of the day. It went unconverted but the early breakthrough and the forward dominance augured well for those who made the trip to the peninsula.

Ards were soon to shake any complacency back down the M1 as their backline simply cut loose giving Clogher a torrid defensive examination. In quick succession they exposed two defensive mid- field frailties that had the visitors struggling to hold on. The second breach led to a try as play was swept across the park for a touchdown wide out. Cox the Ards out half who displayed deft kicking skills all afternoon landed the difficult conversion to take a two point lead. Minutes later he had a penalty to increase the advantage but on this occasion it drifted marginally wide in the freshening breeze.

The Valley responded by cutting off the supply to the Ards back division. Ball acquisition and retention was required and achieved as the visitors upped the ante in the second quarter. Another Trotter penalty achieved a good field position. The lineout maul routine, as oft times before, worked again with Cobane getting the all-important touchdown giving his side the initiative once again. Not goaled but the Valley pushed on for a third try. Again Ards managed to hold the Valley up in the closing exchanges frustrating the visitors when it seemed a try was on the cards and in doing so keeping the interval differential to a meagre thee points.

The second period began badly for Clogher, a poor restart, scrum back and Ards launched their back line at the Clogher rear guard. Several sorties were well dealt with but the inevitable penalty would arise and Cox squared the contest on the 45 minute mark.

Trotter responded with a great restart which Eugene McKenna fielded to drive forward. A series of big carries and a subsequent maul saw Clogher drive over the line but once again to be held up. Credit to Ards, in both fixtures this season, they proved very adept at preventing the Valley capitalising through the maul. Different matter though from the resulting scrum, Ards in retreat, Ryan Wilson pick up and drive, third Valley try. No conversion but a slight Clogher advantage once again.

As in the first period Ards immediately tried to hit back through their backs with their out half and both centres proving very effective. The Valley defensively were now better organised and for the next ten kept the advances under wraps. Cox hit a great penalty into the corner to set up a promising scenario, several phases later Ards were awarded a scrum on the Valley 22’ metre line. This was a game winning scrum from a Clogher perspective. A huge drive disrupted the Ards scrum so much so they were penalised for breaking off and Trotter cleared to beyond the half way. This effectively ended the Ards threat with Clogher going on to dominate both possession and territory. An incisive Sharkey break carried on by Wilson almost led to the fourth try but Ards recovered to hold on. Another scrum saw Ards retreat some ten metres but as a try seemed assured the scrum collapsed and for reasons only known to the official Clogher were penalised for bringing it down.

There was to be no further scoring and Clogher were delighted to gain the four points while Ards got their first point of the season with an improved display.