PSNI 15 – 5 Antrim
On a perfect day for rugby Antrim continued their league campaign away against PSNI at Newforge. After two straight away losses against BHSFP and Malone, Antrim were determined to get their first win over a side which recently dished out a 61-0 win over Randalstown.
Antrim came flying out of the blocks and receiving the kick off, went straight on the attack with surging runs from Ben Phelps and Paul McAleer. Antrim almost opened the scorin, after some good work from the forwards and backs saw centre John Bull forced into touch in the corner, enabling PSNI to clear their lines.
Antrim continued to press but we’re unable to exert any real pressure against the dominant PSNI scrums. However, from good line out ball they were able to attack with their backs and Bull this time was able to squeeze in at the corner following a good backs move. Outhalf Aden Howe though was unable to convert score 0-5.
This seemed to stir PSNI into action and sensing that Antrim had fielded a weakened pack, they began to dominate the scrums and kept possession and away from Antrim’s dangerous backline. This was to be the pattern for the rest of the game with Antrim defending in their own 22 and breaking out well when they were able gain possession.
Finally PSNI got on the scoreboard when Antrim conceded a penalty on their own 22 to bring the score to 3-5.
Antrim continued to try to play running rugby and with full back David Jones with marauding runs from deep from any threatening PSNI kicks. Antrim lead 3-5 at the break.
A rejuvenated PSNI came out for the second half and within 10 mins of the restart, pressed on the Antrim line and after taking some big hits from no 8 Phelps and Centre cum prop David McKee, forced their way over through a series of forward drives to take a 10-5 lead after the conversion.
Antrim fed off scraps of possession and following more lung busting work from the impressive Phelps and surges from Jones, managed to force their way to the PSNI 22. With PSNI safe in the knowledge that any indiscretions at the breakdown would result in a scrum, the game petered out into a game of niggles and fouls with no flow. This left Antrim’s forward pack to battle manfully against an experienced PSNI team content with slow ball and ten man rugby. Only sporadic turnovers and individual efforts were all that was able to stem the flow.
Antrim pressed with vigour for the final 19 minutes and after another Phelps break saw their attempts thwarted with tired minds and some poor decisions in attack letting the side down.
PSNI regained the ball from Antrim’s poor discipline and worked their way to the Antrim line for the final unconverted score of the game to leave Antrim with a 15-5 loss.
It was a sterling effort from Antrim who were led by man of the match Ben Phelps. Antrim showed good periods despite an understrength forward pack, which highlights the team’s potential but also the necessity for all players to up the ante in training this week, ahead of the club’s first home game of the season next Saturday against Belfast Harlequins.