Randalstown RFC Notes: Randalstown RFC I XV 16 v Lisburn Rugby Club I XV 3, City of Derry RFC III XV 14 v Randalstown RFC II XV 22

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Lisburn 3 Randalstown 16
Randalstown travelled to meet Lisburn at Blaris missing a number of players due to injury and unavailability. This meant a call up for Philip Steele one of the young up and coming players in the club, and another appearance for Matty Mawhinney in the firsts backline.
The game, played in blustery conditions began with intense Lisburn pressure on the Randalstown line. The defence held firm however and it was Randalstown who opened the scoring with a well struck O’Kane penalty after 15 minutes.
The lead was short lived when Lisburn levelled the score with a penalty of their own. ‘Town were settling well into the game and another O’Kane penalty took them into a narrow lead.
Lisburn missed a number of kicks at the Randalstown posts ,the swirling wind making life difficult for both teams. ‘Town were able to orchestrate a number of attacks on the Lisburn line and this resulted in Dee Millar darting over the line for an converted to give ‘Town an 11-3 lead at half time.
The second half had just kicked off when Randalstowns young centre Matty Mawhinney suffered a serious neck injury resulting in a long delay in the match.
When they were able to get underway again the Randalstown team showed great determination despite the worrying situation. Great efforts from the robust Jonny Adair and Chrissy Allen well supported by the ever improving Gary Hume kept Lisburn on the defensive.
The loss of Gary Irwin with an eye injury in the 55th minute looked as though it would give Lisburn the chance to come back into the game but each player in the Randalstown team stepped up and gave a tremendous performance to keep them from scoring.
A break by Gary Hume and good work by D Smyth allowed Andy White to go over for a second try to make the final score 16-3 to Randalstown.
The performance of a number of players is worth a mention-Neil Foster, Johnny Adair and John O’Kane all showed their skill and experience in keeping the team focused after Matty Mawhinney’s injury. Peter Knowles and Dee Millar along with Tom Kelso showed that they were not going to step back from the Lisburn attack.
Club coaches were pleased with the team performance, despite injuries to key players the team on the pitch gave 100% and Gary Longwell and Alistair Strange the Club coaching team will look forward with confidence to the remaining three games in the league. News on the two serious injuries is encouraging and everyone at the club wish both Matty and Gary a speedy recovery. Our thanks also, including Lisburn RFC to all who assisted Gary Longwell and our team Manager William Allen to treat the injured players.
The first XV have a break next week before they travel to Enniskillen on 21st March.

City of Derry 3rd XV 14 Randalstown 2nd XV 22
Randalstown 2nds maintained their unbeaten record this season with a 22-14 win away to City of Derry on Saturday afternoon. Having clinched the league the previous week skipper Hyndman’s rousing pre-match team talk ensured there would be no complacency and they turned in one of their best performances of the season, with some quality defending at the heart of this fine victory.
Playing into a strong wind ‘Town started strongly pressurising the home side and forcing them onto the back foot. Conor Murray, deputising at scrum half (his first time in this position) was having a stormer, pushing his team on and with 15 minutes on the clock he fed Turner from a scrum on the opposition 5 metre line. Turner then shipped to Jamie Orr who crashed over under the posts. Murray converted.
Despite claiming the restart ‘town gave the ball away and the home side had now an opportunity to put them under pressure. Using their heavy pack well Derry eventually squeezed over to tie the scores with a converted try. Randalstown continued to dominate, always trying to move the ball and they were rewarded after 25 minutes when they edged in front again. Good work down the left hand side by Ian Hume and Brian Gourley brought ‘Town into striking distance and when the ball was whipped out to the right Ben Hamilton, impressive in his first game since being sidelined by injury back in October, sent Ben Winter in for a score in the corner.
With half time approaching a long, wind assisted kick from Derry gave Randalstown a few problems and when they failed to clear their lines the home side were able to turn the ball over and power over for a second converted try to give them a 14-12 advantage at the interval.
Within minutes of the restart a Murray penalty nudged ‘Town into a slender 15-14 lead. Derry naturally weren’t prepared to give up the game easily and again using their big forwards they threw everything at ‘town. ‘Town’s defence was again superb, repelling a wave of pressure and turning their opponents over several times on their own line.
Hyndman then appeared to ground the ball after good work by Murray but the referee was unsighted. From the resulting scrum Turner looped his centre and sliced through under the posts to touch down. Murray added the extras.
Immediately after this a fine handling move saw Vernon Thom gain good yards up the right wing before releasing Gourley. The young winger, who was having a great game in attack and defence, jigged his way up the touch line before touching down out wide, only to be called back by the home touch judge for a dubious foot in touch.
The rest of the game saw some resilient defence by ‘town along with some great attacking play when Hurrell, Donnelly and Orr caught the eye.
Having experienced one or two fairly lacklustre performances it is pleasing to note that the last couple of games have seen Randalstown pick up the pace again and this was a massive effort from Sammy Hyndman’s men. Liam Hurrell, returning for his first game of the season after nearly a year away, was outstanding at number 8, while Ian Hume and Conor Ferry revelled in the physical encounter. The front row put in a powerful all round performance in the loose and in the set pieces. Murray excelled in his new number 9 berth and the centre partnership of Donnelly and Orr continue to look dangerous in attack and powerful in defence. Stepping up from the 3rd XV came easily to Brian Gourley as he put in a sterling performance on the week.
Manager Sloane felt this was good preparation for next week’s Forster Cup semi-final away to Donaghadee 2nd XV. All at Randalstown wish the 2nds much good fortune for this encounter as they now endeavour to progress to the final and round of a record breaking season.

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