GORDON WEST LEAGUE CUP Match Report – PSNI Rugby I XV 15 Lurgan Rugby I XV 16

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Lurgan 1st XV made the trip to Newforge on Saturday to take on PSNI in there second group game of the Gordon West league cup.

They returned to Pollock Park on the right side of a one-point victory to keep them in the hunt of a quarter final place, Writes Paddy Allen. Having been on the end of some heavy defeats at this venue in recent seasons Lurgan knew that they would be in for a real battle.

The visitors started the brighter and dominated the opening 10 minutes but their early pressure failed to produce any points as a few key line outs were lost in the home sides 22. PSNI’s first attack nearly produced a score down the right hand touchline though Lurgan winger Jonathan Kingham put in a brave tackle to snuff out the scoring opportunity.

Second row Aaron Robinson was making life difficult for the opposition at the line out stealing a number of their throws, as Lurgan were able to clear possession away from danger. The first points of the game arrived with a bit of quick thinking from Lurgan talisman Stephen Nolan in the 29th minute. Having made the initial break on half way Nolan took play just short of the 22 where Lurgan received a penalty.

Nolan looked up took the quick tap as the home sides defence tried to get set and he took off towards the right corner dummied the full back to score a try which he also converted from the touchline for a seven – nil lead. The police responded four minutes later with a converted try of their own but Lurgan took the lead into the break when Stephen Nolan banged over his first penalty of the afternoon from 35 meters four minutes from the break for a 10 – 7 half time lead.

Pictures Slideshow thanks to Lurgan Photographer – CLICK HERE –

The second half of which Lurgan dominated the majority of was a start stop affair as both sides suffered a few knocks and bumps which totalled up to five minutes injury time at the end of the match. The police levelled the game five minutes into the half with a straight forward penalty but efforts on 58 and 78 minutes from Stephen Nolan but his side six points in front at 16 – 10 as Lurgan looked to close the game out going into the final stages.

The home side broke out one minute into injury time and received a penalty, which was kicked into touch, and a forward drive saw them score in the corner but the difficult conversion fell well short and wide and Lurgan ended the game camped in the PSNI 22 as referee Willaim Halliday brought the game to an end for a relieved Lurgan side. This victory now keeps Lurgan in the hunt in their group having lost narrowly to Holywood (13-12) last week and with Civil Service to come at Pollock Park in the final group game on October 23 a win will send Lurgan into the quarter finals.

Credit must go to the Lurgan forwards who got the upper hand on their opponents on the day especially the back row of Jamie Pedlow (Man of the Match), Michael Campbell and Keith McBride who all played out of their skins. The front row of Andrew Mackey, Gavin Collins and Captain Graham Currie gave the opposition a difficult time at scrum time and in the engine row Connor Mallon and Aaron Robinson produced solid performances. They were well marshalled by scrum half Chris Jenks. In the back line the trio of out half Stephen Nolan and centres Scott Gardiner and Dean Swift made sure there defence was solid as very little got through all afternoon. And the back three for Chris Wamsley, Jonathan Kingham and Richard Clarke also produced solid displays.

The only worrying fact on the day was that the line out did not function well in the second half but I am sure this will be corrected at training this week ahead of their opening Kukri Qualifying three match at home to Londonderry YM this Saturday. Lurgan team: (15-9) Richard Clarke, Chris Wamsley, Dean Swift, Scott Gardiner, Jonathan Kingham; Stephen Nolan, Chris Jenks; (1-8) Andrew Mackey, Gavin Collins, Graham Currie (Capt), Connor Mallon, Aaron Robinson, Jamie Pedlow, Michael Campbell, Keith McBride. Opening league game at home Lurgan will get their league campaign in Kukri Qualifying three underway this Saturday when they entertain Londonderry YM at Pollock Park, kick off 2:30pm. Having been relegated from Qualifying two last season the men from Londonderry will be strong favourites to make a straight return this season.

Games in the past between these sides have proved entertaining with the most recent coming in the 2006 Towns’ Cup when Lurgan took their opponents to extra time before running out of steam.

Written By Paddy Allen

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