Randalstown RFC a busy start to the season with II & III XV in action. REPORTS v Instonians & Malone.

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It was a busy start to the season following on from last week’s tournament as Randalstown 2nds and 3rds opened their league season at home.

The seconds game saw the colours of Instonians turn out at Neillsbrook for the first time in many seasons. Sammy Hyndman’s young side stepped up to the plate and dug out a 27-15 win in this stiff opening challenge.

With six of the squad fresh out of school/Randalstown under 19s the home side were under pressure in the opening minutes, but with old hands like Laverty, Winter and Millar well to the fore the defence repelled a strong visiting side.
It took ‘Town 20 minutes to make any progress into the Instonian’s half and at that spurned their first penalty opportunity. In the event it was the visitors who opened the scoring with a easy penalty in front of the posts half an hour in.
Thankfully this galvanised the home 15 and just five minutes later they replied. Putting some good phases together randalsotwn won a penalty just outside the Inst 10 metre line. Millar took a quick tap, popped to skipper Hyndman and he powered over. Conor Murray added the extras.
As it neared the halfway ‘town were again pressing. Donnelly made ground with a fine break and the recycled ball was shipped to Matty Turner who sliced through the defence before offloading to Gary Hume who finished off under the posts leaving a straightforward conversion for Murray.
The second half started in a similar fashion to the first with the visitors on top and piling on the pressure. 10 minutes in ‘town attempted to run out of their own 10 metre area but when the ball went to ground Inst were quick to capitalise and scamper over for a converted score.
Again conceding a score stirred the home side and they hit back with some impressive rugby. Laverty and Donnelly were always dangerous with ball in hand, while the half backs Cathcart and Turner, reunited after a year’s break, were dictating the play. On 65 minutes impressive debutant Andy White broke from full back and linked with Donnelly to move deep into opposition territory. Hume, Dan Morgan and Hyndman all took the ball on before young Mark Strange, who has obviously inherited his father’s pace and nose for the line (??) finished off the move to score a debut try. Turner added the difficult conversion.
Minutes later Turner knocked over a penalty to stretch the score to 24-10.
As the clock ticked down Cathcart broke from his own 22 but was held up short. Again Donnelly was there in support but was also held up. Instonians took possession and tried to break out but strong tackling by the ‘Town defence led to a further penalty which Turner again knocked over. The visitors were still keen to compete and with the last move of the game they breached the home defence to score an unconverted try leaving the final score at 27-15 to the hosts.
This was a satisfying hard fought win for Randalstown 2nds and just reward for a busy pre-season. A fine team performance with a step up in class taken in their stride. The young debutants all made their mark with Sam McCombe and Andy White in particular having impressive games.

Meanwhile on the other pitch the 3rd XV hosted a somewhat multinational Malone side featuring a couple of Spanish natives, who, despite being from a football mad nation, looked to be enjoying the game with the oval ball.

This was as usual a well drilled Malone team, who have been in pre-season training together since June and that was evident in many moves as they resulted in a flurry of early tries. Randalstown 3rds in contrast were only coming together for the first time this season and were ring rusty as a result.
They did not capitulate in the face of the early scoring however and settled down to string a few decent phases of play together. ‘Town were unlucky not to get on the score sheet when captain Adie Johnston passed wide to winger Andrew Sloane and Sloane ran unobstructed from deep inside his own half, chipped cheekily over the head of an oncoming Malone defender then was able to gather and gallop for the line only to be held up agonisingly short. This did however take the ‘Town men deep into Malone territory and a purple patch saw them with a good attacking lineout chance at close quarters. It worked for them at the second attempt as the pack mauled well and Ash McClenaghan, unusually at scrum half, was able to snipe from the base and cross the line. Adie Johnston converted.
The second half was suspended following an injury to Phil Clyde and when play resumed it was pretty much one way traffic in favour of Malone who ran out eventual winners 51-7.
New 3rd XV manager Aaron Murray was not disheartened by his team’s performance, although it was a very tough start to the new season.
Despite the heavy defeat there were many positives to work on in the coming weeks. Sean McCrory got the nod for Randalstown’s man of the match, particularly for some sterling work in defence. Obviously there was a concern over the injury to Phil Clyde. Hopefully it turns out to be not too serious and best wishes from all at Neillsbrook for a speedy recovery.
Next week sees the 1st XV kick off their qualifying campaign against Academy away, while the 2nd XV feature again at home again against Donaghadee 2nds and the 3rd XV travel to Newforge to take on PSNI 2s.
The superdraw is well underway but tickets are still available. For your chance to win prizes from £20 to £1000 enter as soon as possible. The draw at the end of this month will have the added incentive of tickets to the Ulster v Edinburgh pro-12 match. Get entering!
The first pre-match lunch is scheduled for Saturday 20th September. Some spaces are still available. Contact Adie Johnston – adie_johnston@hotmail.com for tickets.
Our website is being revamped and updated at present so watch this space. Meantime keep up to date on our facebook page (randalstownrfc). As usual we welcome all support home and away and look forward to seeing everyone throughout this season.

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