Randalstown RFC 3s v Antrim & On Boxing Day Randalstown Exiles will again take on a Randalstown select XV

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Randalstown 3rd XV 24 Antrim 1st XV 11 Randalstown took their revenge for a narrow defeat away to local rivals Antrim with a convincing victory at Neillsbrook on Saturday afternoon.

Despite the home team dominating the set pieces it was the visitors who started stronger and went into an early lead with an unconverted try.

Some good runs by the home backs, with Ben Joyce just denied by a foot in touch in the corner, saw ‘Town gradually get on top and on the half hour Conor Ferry and James Clyde both ran hard at the Antrim defence making good ground. When the ball was moved out Ryan McGarry hit a great line at pace and sliced his way through to touch down. Martin Connolly added the extras.

In the opening minutes of the second half Connolly jinked his way through to the line but was stopped just short. Service fired the recycled ball out to Ash McClenaghan who burst through virtually unopposed.

Antrim rallied briefly knocking over two penalties in quick succession but ‘Town were now looking comfortable. A good run from his own half by Adie Johnston brought the home side deep into the Antrim 22. Clyde had a rumble to just shy of the line before Ferry picked up and crashed over.

The game was disrupted by injury to 2 Antrim players in quick succession and we wish both John Bull and Aidan Howe speedy recoveries.

When play resumed Randalstown finished the afternoon’s scoring. From another hook against the head by McClenaghan Connolly put up a monster kick from his own 22. The ball travelled to the opposite 22 where it bounced kindly for Emmet Crawford, who gathered and sped home for the final score.

On Boxing Day Randalstown Exiles will again take on a Randalstown select XV to run off the Christmas Pudding. Last year the home (select) side ran out narrow winners and Exiles organiser Neil Foster will hope to reverse that advantage this year. Rolling subs will operate on the day and anyone home for the festive season is encouraged to join us. Should you wish to pull on the boots contact Neil on 07754 699733 to confirm your availability.

Boxing Day over the years at Randalstown has evolved with several successful formats. In this scribe’s early days there was huge competition with near neighbours Antrim for the Campbell Cup. Circumstances with both clubs led to the demise of this competition but thankfully Randalstown weathered the storm and came back with friendlies against Ophir and charity games with the eyefeelgood organisation in recent years.

The desire to attract players and maintain links with those working and studying away from home led to the inaugural exiles game last season. Kick off this year is scheduled for 2pm sharp.

Boxing Day is all about seeing old friends and reminiscing about glory days on the Neillsbrook pitches. Fact, fantasy, memories and medics are all enthusiastically welcomed – Meantime A very Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year

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