Randalstown 2nds ran out fairly easy winners in this boxing day encounter with their near neighbours Ophir.
Despite a bit of a stuttering start maybe due to some enforced personnel changes it was a useful run out before this weekend’s league game against Holywood.
About 15 minutes was played before Mulholland scored the opening try for ‘Town with an unconverted try. Then a couple of minutes later Morriss ran in after good work in the middle by McConnon and Winter and it looked as though the home side had got their rhythm going.
It was however a further 15 minutes before the scoreboard was troubled again this time with a fine try from McClenaghan. The ball travelled from one side to the other and back again courtesy of some slick handling before the hooker set off on one of his typical pacey bullocking runs and proved once again that he is difficult to stop when he has his eye on the line. Again in difficult windy conditions the try went unconverted but ‘Town had racked up a decent 15 – 0 advantage.
On the stroke of half-time Ophir were awarded a penalty for offside and they pushed the ball right down into the corner from where the bulky pack were able to drive over.
After the turnaround and some stern words from captain on the day Harris, a good break from McConnon was well recycled and Kenny Pollin, playing in the less accustomed role of outside centre was able to use his pace and neat side step to find a gap and sprint in. This time Turner was on target with the conversion and the ‘Town maintained their 15 point advantage.
This was quickly followed by an excellent individual try from Willie Fleck when he gathered a high ball out on the wing and then put his foot on his substantial gas to touch down.
It looked like the floodgates were opening now and sure enough McConnon was over the line as ‘Town didn’t give the visitors any chance from the restart. The ball was ripped from them by Montgomery and eventually with the pack coming to his assistance it made it’s way out to McConnon loitering in midfield from where he was delighted to race in.
After 3 tries in quick succession though that was the entertainment over as the match became scrappy and neither side were able to make an impact. With the light fading and time almost up Ophir ran in for a consolation try to leave the final score 34 – 14.
Meantime the big business of the afternoon was happening on the adjacent pitch ~ where the mass ranks of Randalstown legends, coaches, up and coming youngsters and esteemed guests were competing in a charity game organised by the Eye Feel Good cancer charity. The coaches select took the pitch with some apprehension as word had filtered down that the Eye Feel Good select had put in a few useful training sessions prior to the event and were looking the part.
An enjoyable afternoon was had by all in a competitive game, which saw the coaches run out narrow 19-17 winners. The home side, organised by youth supremo Nigel Gilbert, featured such Randalstown illumine as Tommy Hyndman, Tommy Devlin, Trevor Denton, Eddie Hampton, Noel Mulholland, Andy Collins, Nigel Moses and Brian Gardner most of whom are probably still feeling the effects after some considerable playing lay offs. This line up was supplemented by Gilbert himself, Billy Pollin, Eddie Higgins (whose shorts surely deserve a mention of some sort) and a smattering of young Randalstown talent.
The visitors wheeled out some big guns of their own in the form of former ‘Town players Gareth Douglas, Sam Moorman and Adrian Watson and again they were assisted by young Randalstown players. Current club captain Neil Foster claimed a couple of scores – possibly his first of the season – while former captain Nigel ‘the glove of shove’ Moses athletically touched down for the 3rd try.
It is hoped that the event raised plenty of money for the organisation, that being the main aim of the afternoon and the sizeable crowd were treated to a display on the pitch possibly like no other they have seen in some considerable time. All funds raised on the day will go on this occasion to Charis near Magherafelt.
The club is pleased to have been associated with this event for a very worthwhile cause and it is hoped that something of a similar nature can be organised in the future.
The Eye Feel Good organisation are of course active all year round and future events are well publicised on their website www.eyefeelgood.org – Log on and have a look and support this local charity. Randalstown rugby club wish them continued success and it is hoped that more events will be organised in future in conjunction with them.