Randalstown 1st XV 45 Ophir 1st XV 26 (Gordon West)
This was absolutely a game of 2 halves for Randalstown 1sts on Saturday afternoon. First of all they racked up what equated to a point a minute in a half of exhibition rugby, then on the turn around exhibited how not to do it as they failed to get hands on the ball for almost the duration of the half.
With only a minute or two on the clock Boyd picked up a difficult pass from the base of the scrum, released Paul Laverty in the centre and Laverty floated a lovely pass to winger Ryan McGarry who was only to happy to outpace his opposite number and stroll in for his first try of the afternoon. Boyd duly finished the move with the conversion.
It took a further 20 minutes for ‘Town to really cut loose after a period of concerted pressure. Great work in the centre by Dan Wilson and McGlade again saw Laverty in support and he stormed over.
McGlade was involved again shortly after when a chip ahead almost saw McGarry in. Randalstown then took one against the head and Hurrell was quickly off the back of the scrum to score near the posts, giving Boyd a straightforward conversion.
From the resultant kick off ‘Town took full advantage of an Ophir knock on and McGlade then Montgomery made great ground up the middle before shipping to Ryan McGarry who cantered in almost unopposed under the posts for Boyd to add the extras.
Then from the kick off Montgomery, who had another fine game in the centre, was on hand to intercept and sprint in under the posts from the half way line.
Ophir kept their heads however and worked their way into the home 22, but Laverty showed his experience and kept his head to clear to the 22. The ophir lineout was well disrupted taking ‘Town a further 10 yards into the opposition terriority. Perhaps with a taste of things to come Ophir turned the ball over and put in a long kick which saw Blayne McGarry having to pin back his ears to run back and collect. However Ophir kept up the pressure and were awarded a penalty in front of the posts where they possibly should have elected to take the points on offer. Some heroic defence kept them out at this point and having cleared the danger back to halfway’ Town were awarded a scrum. The ball was quickly released by scrum half O’kane, who made a solid debut for the 1sts, and Laverty was again on hand to ship the ball to McGarry allowing him his hat-trick on the stoke of half time. Boyd again added the extras to give the home side a 40 – 0 lead.
But what a difference the half term break wrought. From having all the possession prior to the interval the home side failed to get any sort of possession for the next half hour. Ophir broke their deadlock after about 20 minutes, sensibly deciding to take the points this time from a penalty under the posts. Buoyed by this and the lions share of possession they went on to rack up 4 tries without reply.
The 40 – 0 cushion at half time was beginning to look not so comfortable as the penalty count against Randalstown continued to rise almost incredibly.
Eventually some good work by the half back pairing of O’Kane and Boyd steadied the ship and an intelligent chip ahead allowed Montgomery and Blayne McGarry to take full advantage of an Ophir knock on, Blayne McGarry this time crossing the whitewash.
Coach Stevenson was as incredulous as the rest of the Randalstown support at the reversal in the 2nd half, but was pleased to come away with the win. The team remained committed in the face of some adversity showing a pleasing level of maturity and commitment. O’Kane and Laverty, making their 1st XV debuts, put in good solid performances which may pose selection headaches next week.
Team: McGlade B McGarry Laverty Montgomery R McGarry Boyd O’Kane D Millar Finlay Foster (Capt) Allen M Millar Hume Wilson Hurrell.
Monaghan 2nd XV 7 Randalstown 2nd XV 5
Despite many enforced personnel changes Randalstown 2nds travelled to Monaghan in good spirits on the back of a fine win the previous week. However despite a valiant performance they were on the wrong end of the scoreline.
‘Town started strongly and had 2 early penalty opportunities. Unfortunately without a regular kicker both chances went begging. Skipper Gary Walker was kicking well from hand and kept the home side pinned in their own 22 with some good kicks to touch.
Tim Montgomery was excelling in the lineout giving ‘town dominance and the opportunity to attack from this platform. Shortly before half time Scott Stevenson made a good break which led to the ball moving seamlessly across the back line, ending with Ricky Duncan scampering over in the corner.
The early stages of the 2nd half saw both teams reduced to 14 men, Monaghan losing their number 8 to injury, while Randalstown’s Joe Doyle, who had played manfully out of position at number 10, suffered a dislocated shoulder and had to adjourn to the local A&E.
Further hampered by an injury to Shaun McCrory , who was happily able to continue despite a dislocated finger, hampered ‘town and Monaghan gradually took advantage. Only some superb defending, in particular by Alex Fleck, stopped them from scoring.
With about 15 minutes of the 2nd half played a loose ball was hacked out of the Monaghan half . Hooker Ben Hamilton, who had an outstanding all round game, chased back to shepherd the ball safely into touch, but his teams mates were not as alert on this occasion and Monaghan were able to take a quick lineout to their winger who raced in under the posts. The straightforward conversion pushed Monaghan in front 7-5.
Both sides had opportunities to add to the score but to no avail.
Manager Richardson picked out front rows Hamilton and Pedlow and flanker Alex Fleck for special mention, along with Simon Moon who continues to improve in the centre.
The team wish Joe Doyle a speedy recovery and Richardson was indebited to first aider Vernon Thom who was on hand to help with a glut of injuries, and to maintain discipline on the trip home.
Team: Service Duncan McCrory Moon Winter Doyle Walker (Capt) Loughlin Hamilton Pedlow Millar Montgomery Harris Fleck Stevenson
Randalstown 3rd XV 0 Grosvenor 4th XV 67.
Randalstown 3rds were soundly beaten by Grosvenor 4s at Neillsbrook on Saturday afternoon. Even with a full strength side the 3rds would have struggled to cope with a fit well organised Grosvenor outfit who ran in 11 tries.
It was one way traffic from the word go and by half time the visitors were 29 points to the good. There was brief resistance from ‘town with Tom McMaster working hard in the centre on his return to the side and Sam Darling again showing glimpses of attacking potential.
The 2nd half was more of the same however, as Grosvenor ran in scores at regular intervals. The home side battled gamely but were just over-run by the excellent support play of the visitors.
Manager McCann was glad at the end of a hectic week of phone calls to have 15 players on the park, and although disappointed with the heavy defeat was pleased with the spirit shown by the young side. He picked out young 2nd row Ferghal McConnon for a fine display in only his 3rd game of competitive rugby as he continues to show great potential.
Team: McLean Kennedy Kerr McMaster Darling Rodgers Cathcart Hamilton (Capt) Sloane Devlin Reeves McConnon Savage Agnew McClenaghan
Subs: Morris Smyth
Next week the firsts again entertain Ophir at Neillsbrook, this time in the league, while the 2nds travel to Newry. The 3rds have a break.