With the rugby season drawing to a close, Ophir Seconds were hoping to end a rather disappointing League campaign with a win against Lurgan Seconds.
CLICK HERE FOR PICTURES
Weather conditions were excellent for an open, running game.
The home team started well, taking the game to Lurgan and dominating territory. For the first 10 to 15 minutes they camped in the Lurgan 22, but crucially failed to turn the superiority into points, save for a single well taken penalty from scrum half Alan Davidson. Lurgan fought back, using the kicking game well, and working the touchline. A penalty for offside was missed by the Lurgan full back and Ophir again returned to the attack. But a number of good breaks from John Condell, Bobby Press and Rab Flanagan were not followed up quickly enough and Lurgan were able to turn over possession all too often.
It was entertaining for the spectators, though as both sets of backs saw plenty of ball and ran the legs off themselves. In the 25th minute, Alan Davidson had a more difficult penalty opportunity, awarded against Lurgan for handling in a ruck, and he made no mistake with his effort. 6 – 0 ahead and largely on top, Ophir looked good for a rousing finale to the season.
But Lurgan had other ideas, and after successfully converting a penalty, their out half who had always looked very dangerous, broke a couple of feeble tackles and fed his winger for a fine try. The conversion signalled the end of the half and Ophir were suddenly 4 points adrift.
The second half started no better for Ophir as Lurgan stretched their lead to 7 points when a forward strayed offside. Despite the setback, Ophir stuck to the task and worked their way back towards the visitor’s line with a combination of hard driving and good line kicking. Alan Davidson was unfortunate to miss a difficult penalty attempt, but this was swiftly followed up by a superb break by winger Paul McGreavy, and only a last ditch tackle prevented a certain try. From a line out 5 metres from the Lurgan line the Ophir pack drove over the line but the referee adjudged that the ball wasn’t grounded. To cap that, Ophir were penalised at the 5 metre scrum and Lurgan kicked to safety. Then came the killer blow; with Ophir still pressing the visitor’s defence, a pass was neatly intercepted and the Lurgan winger sprinted from his own 22 to touch down under the Ophir posts. The conversion was simple and Lurgan led 20 points to 6. But, all credit to Ophir, they kept
going and only a forward pass prevented them adding to their tally. With 10 minutes to go, Ophir were finishing in fine style. Once again they were over the Lurgan line and were again denied a score by the referee. This led to some dissent and the referee promptly marched Lurgan’s penalty 10 metres forward. But Ophir absorbed the disappointment and fought back to the Lurgan line. And from a 5 metre scrum, Ophir made certain that the referee had no choice but to award a try. Alan Davidson fed the ball to Bobby Press and his offload to Rab Flanagan put the prop in at the base of the post. Alan Davidson converted but there was no time left for Ophir to add to their total. The final score, Ophir 13, Lurgan 20.