Larne Come Out On Top In Local Derby

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Larne 19 – 15 Ballyclare

On Saturday 26th December Larne were hosts to neighbouring rivals Ballyclare in the Hall Cup. Despite adverse weather conditions through the week the match was declared on after a pitch inspection and on the day conditions were ideal.

Both teams showed they were up for the game starting at a ferocious pace. The home side started to get on top in open play though the visitors had more control of set pieces most notably the lineouts. A penalty gave Larne the first points in the game from the boot of Garrett. Ballyclare were soon to reply with a penalty to make it 3 points a piece.

Larne fought back to take control of the scrums forcing their opposition back but Ballyclare still dominated the lineout. Larne fought for field position and after an exchange of kicks with Larne losing out the Ballyclare number 11 took full advantage catching the hosts offside. From this break Ballyclare managed to get over the try line for an unconverted try.

Ballyclare pushed to take control but their efforts crashed on Larne’s aggressive defence, most notably thundering tackles by Nixon. Larne soon narrowed Balyclare’s lead with another penalty struck by Garrett just before the half time whistle leaving the half time score 6 – 8 to the visitors.

From the restart Larne looked more determined and another penalty opportunity taken by Garrett gave the home side one point advantage. Larne’s confidence grew as they dominated in the loose thanks to a strong team effort to turn over Ballyclare ball. Larne worked their way up the pitch and a opportunity to extend the lead was narrowly missed. Soon after a second effort in a similar position was kicked for touch and from a good Larne lineout combined with quick hands from the backline gave Thomas the space to power his way past his opposite number and score a converted try.

Larne continued pressure met a determined Ballyclare defence but they conceded a penalty for continually slowing the ball at rucks and Garrett converted to put the lead beyond a converted try. With 15 minutes left on the clock Ballyclare raised their game but were matched by Larne’s resilient defence which inculded a few noticable hits by Marshall.
With few points in it, Larne knew it would be a hard fought game to the end. Larne were unlucky not to score following a quick tapped penalty from Garrett but Ballyclare held firm to clear their lines.

In the final stages Ballyclare swamped the Larne and eventually scored below the post and added the conversion bringing the final score to 19-15 in Larne’s favour.

Larne can take many positives into their next match in the Town’s Cup against Donaghadee on the 9th January.

A special thanks must go to Derek Montgomery who raised over £150 for SPINI by agreeing to get his long locks cut at the end of the night any further donations would be gratefully recieved.

Larne 1st XV – D. Lough, G. Wright (Capt), M. McMullan, E. Hunter, J. McKinty, M. Crampsey, A. Nixon, J. McCluggage, R. Garrett, P. Agnew, R. Thomas, S. Knox, S. Montgomery, R. Gabbey, S. Marshall.

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