Lisburn RFC Notes: I XV 18 v Carrickfergus RFC I XV 16: Report

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In an exciting Qualifying League encounter at Blaris last Saturday, a rejuvenated Lisburn team reversed the outcome of the away fixture last September by overcoming Carrick at Blaris. This was a must win game for both teams as they, along with Larne and Randalstown, were sitting uncomfortably in the bottom four positions of Qualifying Two. At least this win gives them some breathing space and encouragement prior to their next test against Grosvenor who sit in mid table.
The game got off to a frenetic start with Lisburn driving into Carrick territory and there was only three minutes on the clock before Mark Crowe, playing at scrumhalf, notched up the first points with a well taken penalty. Graham Lee had returned out of semi-retirement to replace the unavailable David Curry and his experience brought a lot of grunt to the close exchanges early on. However it was Carrick who scored next with a good opportunist try from scrumhalf Topping after he sold an outrageous dummy before going in under the posts. The conversion made it 3-7 to the visitors.
The Lisburn pack had plenty of experience in the front row in Dickson, Jefferson and Currie, the latter back after a month’s break because of an ankle injury, and the scrums were solid right through the game. Alan Hughes athleticism in the lineout and around the park also gave Lisburn much needed possession and the pack generally worked hard to provide this. A penalty apiece was then swapped before, on the dot of half time, Lisburn produced a little bit of magic. Attacking on the Carrick line possession was gained with some good rucking and mauling and a long pass to the wing saw winger David Scott steam in at the corner for an excellent try. While the conversion failed, it put Lisburn in at the interval with an all important 11-10 lead.
This was the morale booster they needed and within seven minutes of the restart, and following sustained pressure, scrumhalf Crowe put left winger Adam Melville in under the posts for a trademark try with a beautifully executed inside pass. Crowe converted to make it 18-10. Carrick then came right back into the game with a simple penalty to narrow the gap to five points and the Lisburn support were once again living on their nerves. At this point the game had broken up as the two teams tried all they could to get another breakthrough and heightened tension led to a yellow card on either side in separate incidents. Carrick closed the margin still further with another penalty making it 18-16 but thankfully stout defence all around the park, especially from their back row of Stuart Evans, David Gilkinson and Mark Hill kept the Lisburn line intact until the final whistle.
Next Saturday the team travel to Grosvenor to see if they can repeat their home win before Christmas. It is a very important fixture for Lisburn as they seek to escape the relegation trapdoor. The 2nd XV try to get back to winning ways after their defeat to Carrick 2s when they travel to play Clogher Valley 2s. The 3rd XV have a free date.

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