Larne RFC Notes: I XV 50 v Lurgan RFC I XV 8 II 5 v QUB RFC III XV 27 (Crawford Cup!) REPORTS

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Sat 14th Dec, 2:30pm. Larne 50 – 8 Lurgan
Clinical performance in atrocious weather for Larne men
by Stephen Johnston

AMNEXDAY sponsored Larne 1st XV entertained Lurgan on Sat in their Qualifying 3 campaign. Larne ran out winners 50-8.

After a weeks rest Larne made several changes to their team. Sam McWhirter came in to the pack and Gary Mills made a welcome return to the back line.

Larne won the toss and captain McCluggage decided to play in to the strong wind in the first half. From the onset the Larne men kept the ball in hand and ran at the Lurgan defence. However, an infringement early on allowed Lurgan on the score sheet first, with a well slotted penalty by their outhalf.

This seemed to spur the Larne men on. The pack grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and stamped their control. The front row of Gibson, McAlister and McWhirter were dominating at scrum time and Larne won numerous against the head.

The pressure finally mounted when Ricky McIlheron broke through to run in for a great individual effort. Andrews converted. From the restart a superb catch and burst through by Mark McIlheron saw him pass to Ryan McAlister on the half way line who surprised everyone with a sudden burst of blistering pace to beat the oncoming defenders.

At this stage the flood gates opened when Larne showed slick handling skills in difficult conditions. There were two scores for Burns and Garrett in quick sucession. Both players used their pace and eye for a gap to go over for well taken scores.

As the first half came to the end Craig Gibson suffered an injury to his ankle and had to leave the field of play for the rest of the game.

With the wind on their backs in the second half the Larne men knew that it would still be difficult with only 14 men.

Credit were credit is due Lurgan came back at the Larne men. They gave the Larne lineout a difficult time and started to gain territory.

As they came back in to the game tempers began to flare and after a few handbags Mills received ten minutes in the bin. Down to 13 men Larne were under severe pressure and this finally told its tail when their winger snuck over in the corner for a score.

When Mills came back on to the pitch Larne composed themselves. Andrews and Garrett pinned the Lurgan back three deep in their half with a good kicking display. Larne were on the score sheet again when Burns broke through to score his third of the day. McAlister was next on the score sheet when a superb reverse pass by R McIlheron put him through for his second.

As the half wore on Agnew raced over for a score after slick handling and intricate play by the forwards.

As the final whistle blew Larne ran out winners 50-8. This was a very slick and clinical team performance by the men in red in what was difficult playing conditions. The team were impressive both in attack and defence and they look forward to their fixture next Saturday against Carrick in the Hall Cup.

Larne Team 1-15: C Gibson, R McAlister, S McWhirter, M Crampsey, C McKinty, J McCluggage(C), M McIlheron, E Hunter, R McIlheron, P Andrews, M Agnew, G Mills, J Burns, C Moore, R Garrett.

Sat 14th Dec, 2:30pm. QUB 27 – 5 Larne
Larne 2nds Unable to Reproduce FIne Form in Cup Loss
by Stephen Johnston

On Saturday 14th December, Larne 2nds travelled to Queens in the Crawford Cup to be beaten 27-5.

Larne 2nds, after a lengthy spell of no games, wanted to continue their fine winning form in Junior League 2 against Queens 3rds in a somewhat changed team that defeated Ballynahinch.

Blustery conditions meant both teams were going to have to adapt quickly to establish any momentum of the game.

Queens gained that early momentum when they took 2 scrums against the head and kicked well against the wind to work the Larne side. Larne being penalised heavily for ill-discipline around the fringes in the first 15 mins of the game.

Queens were first on the scoreboard with a try from their right winger and when Larne’s winger Stuart Smyth was sent to the sin bin, they scored again through wide ball to give a 10-0 lead.

Larne, trying to get started in the game hit back with strong carries through second rows of William Rea and Marc Gilbert, but stopped at the line by the Queens defence.

Half time score 10-0.

Larne looked to put the errors in the first half behind them and started brighter through their ball carrying centres of Cole and Johnston, but a strong rolling maul from Queens was driven over the Larne as they commanded the game 15-0 up.

Not lying down from the challenge, Larne dogged their way up the field again as the tables turned for discipline with Queens being penalised on their tryline. A quickly tapped penalty was fed to Marc Gilbert to rumble over the line for his 4th try of the season.

A further 2 tries by Queens in quick succession ended the game 27-5 in an under par performance by Larne.

All players will need to turn out to training before the challenge of Ballynahinch away on 28th December.

Larne 2nds: A. Ferguson, G. Wright, Chris Rea, William Rea, M. Gilbert, L. Cameron, Stephen Johnston (c), G. Jamison, B. Garrett, A. McBride, S. Smyth, J. Cole, Stuart Johnston, N. Kelso, G. Knox

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