Randalstown 1st XV 43 Antrim 1st XV 0 (Gordon West)
Proceedings kicked off early in the clubhouse with a pre-match lunch, and when fed and watered the large crowd adjourned to the Simpson stand to enjoy some fine rugby courtesy of the 1st & 2nd XVs. This was a new venture for Randalstown and organisers Adrian Johnston and Greg McPherson are to be congratulated on a highly successful afternoon.
Randalstown cruised to a 43 – 0 win over local rivals Antrim in the Gordon West cup at Neillsbrook on Saturday. In the first meeting at 1st XV level for 5 years young winger Niall McGlade stole the show with 3 tries as Mike Stevenson’s impressive young side mastered the atrocious weather conditions to put on an entertaining display of running rugby, much to the delight of the large crowd in attendance. Although the backs ran in 5 of the 6 tries it was a powerful forward performance which laid the foundations, a tearaway back row created havoc in attack and defence, and the front five with the 2 old men Simon Finlay and Mark Millar, in particular putting in a lot of hard work.
Antrim had the first scoring opportunity with a penalty which fell short. This was as close as the visitors got to putting points on the board as the homesters gradually piled on the pressure. The incessant rain was making life difficult for both sides, but the home pack were beginning to dominate the set pieces and rucks and it was no surprise when David Millar drove over after 18 minutes. Adam Boyd, who again led the backline well, kicked the extra points and shortly after added a penalty.
46 Picture Slideshow Of Randalstown I XV V Antrim I XV – CLICK HERE – Pictures courtesy of David Irvine Photography and special thanks to a umbrella and his daughter Eileen for taking the pictures
Town continued to press forward with Montgomery, Paul and the increasingly influential scrum half Wilson, all impressing. Just on half time, having stretched the Antrim defence ‘Bean’ McGlade broke the line and with a show of the ball and a neat pirouette was over the line beside the posts for his first try of the afternoon. Boyd had an easy kick for the extra 2 points.
The 2nd half continued in the same vein and within minutes winger Ryan McGarry scorched down his flank for try number 3 before McGlade skinned his opposite number to run in his 2nd. Boyd added a conversion and Town put the game beyond Antrim’s reach at 29 – 0.
Then the collective foot came off the gas and Antrim enjoyed a bit of possession in the ‘Town half but might defending, particularly from the home back row of Hume, Wilson and Hurrell quelled any hopes of a score.
With only about 15 minutes remaining Antrim were reduced to 14 men when their hooker had to retire injured. Although the resulting uncontested scrums curtailed an attacking option for Randalstown they tried to exploit the extra space by spreading the ball and stretching the now tiring Antrim defence.
Eventually with 5 minutes left skipper Neil Foster and Mark Allen drove hard through the middle and McGlade was on hand to dart over the line. Boyd again obliged with the conversion.
Randalstown kept the best till last however when in the dying seconds of the game Ryan McGarry fielded a clearance on his 22 and aided by full back Rab Fleck, they ran deep into the Antrim 22, and then good recycling saw an overlap created and McGarry fittingly was on hand to run in the final try of the match. Boyd rounded off an impressive kicking display in difficult conditions with the conversion.
Coach Stevenson was delighted with the victory, and more importantly by the manner in which the match was won. His young charges continue to play an exciting attacking style of rugby, and they didn’t allow the difficult conditions to inhibit them.
Team: R Fleck, N McGlade, N Paul, W Montgomery, R McGarry, A Boyd, R Wilson, D Millar, S Finlay, N Foster, M Allen, M Millar, G Hume, D Wilson, L Hurrell.
Randalstown 2nd XV 35 Letterkenny 2nd XV 0
Despite suffering from indigestion after rushing his pre-match lunch, manager Ivan Richardson still gave an inspiring team talk as his 2nd XV produced an impressive display against Letterkenny. Bouncing back from a disappointing reversal the previous week they ran out easy 35 – 0 winners, the scoreline not really reflecting the amount of territory and possession they enjoyed.
The home pack tore into their opposition from the outset setting up ample ball for skipper Gary Walker to get his back line moving but the slippery ball was causing some problems and they couldn’t convert the early pressure. Eventually it was a penalty from debutant John O’Kane, playing out of position at out half, which got the score board moving. 10 minutes later as the home backs finally got to grips with the slippery ball, new centre Martin Galbraith created space for full back Sam Darling to surge over. O’Kane converted and ‘Town were now a comfortable 10- 0 ahead.
14 Picture Slideshow Of Randalstown II XV V Letterkenny II XV – CLICK HERE – Pictures courtesy of David Irvine Photography and special thanks to a umbrella and his daughter Eileen for taking the pictures
More of the same followed, with the home side dominating the exchanges, and O’Kane keeping the scoreboard ticking with another couple of penalties. Then a great lineout take by another debutant, Tim Montgomery, on the halfway line saw the home pack drive their opponents over the try line, Dave Harris getting the credit for the touchdown. Minutes after this Ryan Ings stole opposition ball again on the half way and released dynamic hooker Stevenson, who showed a deceptive turn of pace to outsprint the retreating defence and crash over the try line. O’Kane kicked the difficult conversion.
Stevenson was again involved in the build up to the final score before Walker took over and sent Ryan Keating away to touch down beside the posts. O’Kane completed the scoring with the conversion, and indeed ended the game with a personal haul of 15 points on his debut appearance.
In better conditions Randalstown with a performance like this would surely have added a lot more points to the score board. Manager Richardson had been forced into making a number of changes to his starting 15 and was delighted with the team efforts under the circumstances, particularly newcomers Montgomery, Fleck, Darling, Galbraith & O’Kane. He did however pick out prop Ricky ‘Milkshake’ Loughlin as his man of the match, just edging out fellow front rower Stevenson and flanker Ryan Ings, who is consistently in the frame for this accolade.
Team: S Darling, R Duncan, M Mulholland, M Galbraith, B Winter, J O’Kane, G Walker, A Spiers, S Stevenson, R Loughlin, T Montgomery, D Harris, R Ings, A Fleck, R Keating.
Celebrations continued in the clubhouse well into the wee small hours in what has been dubbed Super Saturday at Neillsbrook. Ian McAllister took to the stage to provide some early evening entertainment and then Trinity entertained a sizeable crowd in the evening. Best wishes for a speedy recovery go to fullback Rab Fleck who picked up a nasty shoulder injury. Any other ‘casualties’ will hopefully have shaken off the worst of it before training on Tuesday night at 7 pm sharp.
Next Saturday the 1st XV and 3rd XV entertain Ophir in the Gordon west and Grosvenor in the league respectively, while the 2nds travel to Monaghan.
Congratulations to Michael ‘Curly’ Hamilton who has been appointed 3rd XV Captain for the 2010/2011 season. As usual Randalstown welcomes all support and hopefully the winning habit will continue.