Carrick III XV 17 v Randalstown II XV 9 & Randalstown III XV 35 v PSNI II XV 29

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Randalstown 1st XV had no game this week as they were scheduled to play Ards in the new conference section of the qualifying league. Our sympathy is extended to the Beukes family, and to Ards Rugby Club at this sad time.

Coach Stevenson used the opportunity for a light training session at Neillsbrook before travelling down to Carrick to watch the 2nd XV in action.

Randalstown 2nds travelled to Carrick on Saturday afternoon and were disappointed in the end on the wrong end of a 17-9 defeat.

Town started nervously and allowed themselves to be turned over a couple of times from the kick-off giving Carrick an early penalty advantage. Despite brilliant disruptive work by Ings at the resulting lineout the visitors remained under pressure and Carrick crossed for a try with only a few minutes played.

Town didn’t allow the heads to drop with this early sucker punch and made their way down the pitch into carrick territory thanks to a long punt by Wilson from a penalty, and when Carrick infringed again opted sensibly for the points to narrow the gap. Unfortunately the effort sailed just wide of the right upright and the home 5 point advantage remained.

More handling errors ensued, with a knock on at the restart handing advantage straight back to Carrick and save for some strong tackling from Ings they would have been in again. Randalstown were playing in fairly determined fashion but couldn’t quite get to grips with the aggressive Carrick front five. A penalty chance for the home team went begging after some infringement at the ruck which was a further let off for Randalstown.

Encouraged by manager Richardson to settle the play and not panic ‘Town did start to look the more useful outfit, gaining the upper hand in the scrum and disrupting most of the Carrick lineout. It was from a Carrick lineout, which Ings again dominated, the ball was sensibly kicked ahead and ‘Town were awarded a penalty when the Carrick defence failed to clear. This time Wilson was on target to narrow the gap.

As half time approached Ings took the ball at the lineout and Harris and Laverty were there in support to rumble further up field before Wilson chipped out wide but the kick had just too much weight to allow Forsythe to gather. Hamilton then barged through with mobile prop Loughlin in support and they did enough to get a further penalty awarded which Wilson again converted to leave the visitors 6 – 5 ahead at the interval.

A sizeable support felt that ‘Town could now turn the screw and close out the game. Carrick had other ideas and almost straight from the restart ran in a 2nd try, again unconverted. Town missed a further penalty opportunity after a break by Stevenson and Harris. Undeterred however Ben Winter gathered the restart and raced up his wing only to be stopped by a high tackle. A well placed kick took ‘town within 10 yards of the Carrick line and again a penalty was forced which Wilson converted to keep his side in touch with about 25 minutes played.

Town just couldn’t seem to find the killer punch despite some great breaks by Ben Winter, who had a fine all round game, both in attack and defence, and a winning score eluded them. Carrick cleared well downfield and Wilson took the ball and called the mark. His clearance attempt was charged down but McCrory was able to gather and clear to touch. Ings again disrupted the carrick lineout but the ball was turned over in the loose and against the run of play carrick barged over the line. Their number 8 this time stepped up for the kicking duty and converted in what was to be almost the final play of the game.

Manager Richardson was disappointed as the game was there for the taking, but he was also quick to point out that there were some high points, not least the all round performance of Winter on the wing, always looking for work and punching well above his weight. The back row unit of Park, Harris and Ings put in a strong performance, but the man of the match was undoubtedly Ryan Ings whose work rate was excellent even in comparison to his usual high standard, and he was a constant thorn in the side of the home lineout. No doubt Mike Stevenson looking on will have a few points to ponder in selection this week.

Team: S McCrory G Forsyth A Johnston P Laverty B Winter R Wilson G Walker (capt) R Loughlin B Hamilton S Stevenson J Millar A Goodfellow D Harris R Ings A Park.

Meanwhile back at Neillsbrook the 3rd XV were in action against PSNI 2nds. The came away with 2 points in an entertaining encounter.

‘Town started well and were 12-0 up after only 6 minutes. Firstly a good lineout take by Rodgers saw the big 2nd row pushed to within feet of the PSNI line. When the ball came to the back of the maul skipper Curly Hamilton was on hand to nip down the blind side and open the scoring. Tommy Devlin then secured the ball from the kick off before outhalf Maguire released McCann. The young centre went on a solo run from his own half to touch down for the second try. Scrum half Service added the extra points.

A rout looked on the cards at this stage, but the more experienced visitors showed the game down to suit their playing style and pace, dominating the set pieces, and claimed their first try 5 minutes later with a lineout take and drive.

Some poor passing in the home midfield saw the ball go to ground and allowed the PSNI to hack through from just inside the home 22. With a home defence almost non-existant the PSNI centre had an easy job to gather and touch down. The conversion brought the scores level, but then ‘Town hit back with a Service penalty on the half hour. With half time approaching the visitors capitalised again on some poor defence by Randalstown as their centre broke from the halfway line and weaved his way through a number of despairing tackles to score in the corner, leaving the visitors 17-15 ahead at the interval.

Randalstown claimed the first points of the 2nd half when after a series of rucks on the PSNI 10 metre line Maguire chipped through. The young outhalf followed his kick and was able to jump between 2 defenders under the posts to collect the ball and flop over the tryline. Service again added the conversion.

PSNI pulled the score level again with a penalty before ‘Town had a good spell of possession. Led by hooker Pedlow the forwards battered the visitors line without making the break through, and it was left to Maguire to ensure that the pressure resulted in points. The number 10 this time makde full use of his fleetness of foot to split the visitors defence when the ball was eventually spun out and go in under the posts. Service converted to stretch the lead to 29 – 20 with about 10 minutes remaining.

The visitors to their credit weren’t lying down and 2 penalties took them within 3 points of the home side. A drop goal with less than 5 minutes remaining levelled the scores and it looked as though it was going to be honours even. ‘Town however came straight back and put the visitors under pressure in their own 10. Pedlow, of all people, won an opposition line out and Service drove into the heart of the visiting defence. Devlin and Savage continued the movement before McCann went close to the try line. Again ‘town recycled the ball and Maguire then broke blind to find the evergreen Devlin lurking on the wing. The veteran prop crashed over to secure the winning score much to the delight of the crowd. All in all good entertainment for the spectators at Neillsbrook, through manager Tommy McCann was disappointed at some poor defensive work in the first half, and the concession of too many penalties in the 2nd which allowed the visitors to stay in touch. He was however more than pleased with the spirit his side showed in hitting back late in the game to take the points, and also improved performances in the pack from Savage, Hamilton and Pedlow.

Team: Morriss Duncan Kennedy McCann Young Maguire Service Spiers Pedlow Devlin Rodgers Hamilton (capt) Savage McConnon Mulholland. Subs: Hyndman Barron

Next week all teams are again in action with the 1sts due to entertain Donegal at Neillsbrook, the 2nds travelling to CIYMS, and the 3rds again at home to Carrick 5s.

The Club formal takes place next Saturday night at the Rosspark Hotel and is almost fully subscribed. There is however an opportunity for those who were unable to attend the function to come along at 10 o’clock for the entertainment. We look forward to welcoming everyone to what promises to be a successful evening at the Rosspark.

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