Carrickfergus RFC Information – I XV 23 v Larne RFC I XV 22 REPORT HERE by T Stainer

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The Maxol-sponsored Carrick 1st XV started the new season with a win – just – over Larne in a Friendly played at Woodlawn on Saturday 7th September. Typically, for a start of season fixture, the game was full of errors from both sides.However, Carrick appeared well in control in the first half hour and again going into the closing stages but allowed their opponents to get back into the game, Partly, it was a failure to take chances, partly defensive errors but mainly because, with control of the ball for a lot of the time, they didn’t use this to play the game where they wanted to – in Larne territory.
The home side started strongly and were more or less fully in control in the early stages but, in the first quarter, all they had to show for their dominance in the scrum and at the breakdown was two Johnny Sheriff penalties. They extended their lead on twenty minutes when Aaron McKinney went over following quick ruck ball and a strong carry from blind-side Johnny Magill. Johnny Sheriff added the conversion points to give Carrick a 13 points to nil lead. Larne the got their first points from a penalty two minutes later but the home team continued to dominate and had a number of chances to extend their lead but either there was no one in support of a player who made a break or the final pass didn’t go to hand. At about the half-hour mark, one of the Larne props had to go off and scrums became uncontested, removing a an area of definite advantage for Carrick. Around this time, the visitors began to take the game to Carrick and should have scored just before half-time but the player with the line at his mercy couldn’t hold the pass and Carrick were able to clear. At half-time, Carrick led by 13 points to 3.
Larne started the second half strongly and scored after five minutes when some indifferent Carrick defending allowed the visitors’ second row to race in unopposed from the 22. The try was converted to narrow the gap to 3 points. However, the home side began to take control again and increased their lead with another Johnny Sheriff penalty after eight minutes of the half. Carrick continued to create chances but didn’t capitalise until the thirtieth minute of the half when Aaron McKinney went over again, this time following a decisive break by outside centre Johnny Cullen. Johnny Sheriff added the points to give the home side a 23 points to 10 lead. The visitors then once more to wrested control from Carrick and, with two minutes of normal time remaining forced their way over the Carrick line in the right hand corner. From a difficult angle, the Larne kicker converted to narrow the gap to six points. In a lengthy period of injury time, it was all Larne and they got their reward when, following a period of pressure, a cross-kick caught Carrick napping and the visitors were able to gather and go over unopposed. The conversion kick, which would have won the match for them, came back off the post and Carrick ended up 23-22 winners. Larne will feel they deserved at least a draw because of their never say die attitude and the way they fought back into the game on two occasions when Carrick semed comfortably in control.
For Carrick, this match will hopefully have blown away some of the cobwebs and will help get them prepared for the start of the League programme. There were some fine individual performances on Saturday, including from new backs Coach Johnny Cullen, blind-side Johnny Magill, open-side Neil Hanna, Ryan McGonigle at No 8 and the front row of Adam Gibney, Glen Baxter and Robbie Wiliams all of whom carried strongly and tackled well. It was not a lack of talent- that is there in abundance – or effort which nearly cost Carrick the game against Larne; it was simply that they didn’t always take the right tactical option and their
execution let them down at crucial times. As they get into the season, these areas should certainly improve.
The Carrick team and sustitutes, all of whom came on during the match, was:-
A. McKinney; N. Hastings, J. Wady, J. Cullen, A. Moore; J. Sheriff, K. Topping; A. Gibney, G. Baxter, R. Williams, A. Kincaid(Capt), C.Rodgers, J. Magill, N. Hanna, R. McGonigle. Subs: M. Smylie, C. Ferris and A. McIlroy.

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