Banbridge must have felt slightly bewildered as to why they didn’t come away from this game as winners. However, ‘Quins never give up despite early injuries and also having two key players not showing up due to a car breakdown.
‘Quins Captain Robert Logan had to leave the pitch after just a few minutes with worrying neck injury. Playing with the wind, Banbridge opened the scoring after just 6 minutes with an Adam Ervine try. The impressive Ian Porter added the conversion.
With a minute to go before half time, ‘Quins Tom Fraser was unstoppable from 5 metres out. Young Jonny Holmes was unable to add the extras.
With 12 minutes of the second half gone’Quins scored another try when live wire Eddie Hamilton crossed the home line after some careless rucking by the opposition. The conversion was missed again in difficult conditions to leave the score 7-10.
A few minutes later Holmes broke his duck by slotting a penalty to increase the visitors lead.
From the restart the home side won a penalty which they kicked to the corner. Bann opted for a 5 metre scrum after ‘Quins infringed at the lineout, releasing Jonny little, who crushed over the visitors line for another Bann try. Porter added the conversion and was again successful a short time later with a penalty to stretch Banns lead to 17-13.
Matthew Johnston looked to have secured a home win with just minutes remaining as he scampered over in the corner. The angle was too tight for Porter to add the conversation.
From the restart ‘Quins won a penalty which Holmes struck between the posts.
In the 79th minute the visitors broke through the home defence and 1st XV debutant Fintan Hillyard put veteran replacement Andrew Gillespie in for a try which Holmes converted to secure the win.
Belfast Harlequins 0 vs 45 Grosvenor 2
This was a somewhat unfair first match with several missing members of the usual Quins 3s team against arguably the strongest team that Grosvenor could field on the day.
It was a perfect day for Quins 3rd XV to open their season following last year’s promotion to Section 2 of the Junior League. It was unfortunate that the opening match for the Quins dream team was against Grosvenor 2ndXV on a week when Grosvenor 1st XV were not in action.
Quins were well organised with everyone arriving early to focus on the challenge ahead. The warm up went well & the mood in the camp was good.
The match was kicked off by Grosvenor playing with the wind to their backs; unfortunately Grosvenor went into an early lead with a well worked try after only five minutes. The Quins heads did not drop in any way, this was just an early wakeup call & a competitive period of play commenced with Quins camping in the Grosvenor 22 for about ten minutes. Unfortunately a stray pass lead to a breakaway try by the young & quick Grosvenor backs.
The play continued in much the same vein with Quins at times playing some great rugby but gifting trys to Grosvenor following handling errors.
The score at half time was 34-0 to Grosvenor.
The half time talk from skipper Jody summed up the first half – Quins had been playing good rugby but forcing passes and playing into Grosvenor’s hands, tacking had been good but could be better & generally there was a positive mood in the camp.
The second half was a totally different game with Quins taking control of the game and attacking the Grosvenor line. With only fifteen minutes to go Grosvenor once again got their hands on the ball after yet another handling error by Quins. Grosvenor began to take control again of the game and once again scoring trys with the mighty Quins 3s now somewhat visibly down hearted. The full time whistle blew with the Quins dream team at the wrong end of approx. 45-0 score line.
Special mentions: Showing no concern for any self-preservation Stuart Leckey tackled two Grosvenor players head first & had to leave the pitch with suspected concussion. Other excellent tackles were put in by Josh Mckee (stopping a Grosvenor player in his tracks on the score line), Matty Dass, and Neil Trimble were relentless in defence. Excellent turn-overs by Jonny Carey who did not look like a player who had not taken a rugby pitch in anger for almost a year. Well done Ollie for staying on the pitch even though he had a dead leg (& perhaps a dead butt cheek too!!) following a collision after only 10 minutes. Matty Dass as usual made several hard runs into the Grosvenor lines making the life of his opposite number a nightmare.
Whilst on paper this is a large defeat, there are a large number of positives to come from this match and if we play as we did for the first 25 minutes of the second half we will win a lot more games than we will lose in this new league.
The best way to ensure this does not happen again is for everyone to get to training on Thursday nights!!!
Power NI man of the match – Jonny Carey