Randalstown Rugby Club Launch new season jersey with win while II’s top JL4 but dissapointment for the III’s

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Randalstown 1st XV 23 Enniskillen 1st XV 8
CLICK HERE for pictures by Marc Lawrence
Randalstown 1sts took to the pitch at Neillsbrook for the first home game of the season resplendent in new shirts sponsored by Favour Pet foods. Favour of course is locally based in Randalstown and the club have enjoyed an association with them in the past which they are delighted to continue into 2014-2015. Thanks to them for this valuable support.
The 1sts were up against an Enniskillen side hoping to continue their winning start to this season in Qualifying 2. The game was played in perfect conditions before a large crowd at Neillsbrook and the result saw the home side slide up the table into 3rd place on equal points with today’s opposition at this early stage of the season.
Early pressure from the visitors resulted in a penalty when a Randalstown back strayed offside and this gave the visitors an early 3-0 lead. However the ‘Town soon began to dominate up front and after a number of excellent scrums the backs moved the ball to Michael Smyth, enjoying another fine game at full back, who glided through the visitors defence, passed to David McWhirter who then rounded the winger to score in the corner.
The Randalstown side continued to put the visitors under even more pressure and soon the lead was extended to 5 points when Daniel McGlade slotted over a penalty. A mix-up from the kick off allowed Enniskillen back into the game, a loose ball was seized on by the visitors forwards and the game was tied as they scored a well taken try in the corner.
After 30 minutes the home side went ahead again after some good work by McGoldrick. Paul Laverty crashed over for a second try which Dan McGlade converted to make the halftime score 15-8 in favour of Randalstown.
Despite injuries to both P Laverty and Neil Foster the Randalstown side continued to take the game to Enniskillen. The visitors still posed a threat on the counter attack but excellent defence by all the Randalstown players kept them out.
As the game approached the 70th minute both Michael Smyth and Chris McGoldrick worked well to give Niall McGlade the chance to put the game beyond doubt with a great touch down in the corner to make the final score 23-8 to Randalstown.
Coaches Gary Longwell and Alistair Strange were delighted not only with the victory but by the hard work and skill shown by the team. It would be unfair to single out individuals and on this occasion it would seem right that any awards for the game go to the whole team.
With a number of players due back from injury and the good performance of the 2nd XV the coaching team will have a dilemma when they pick a side for next week’s Junior Cup match against Qualifying One side Dromore .

Ballymoney 3rd XV 12 Randalstown 2nd XV 20

Another exciting performance saw the ‘Town 2nds make it 3 out of 3 in a most pleasing start to the season which leaves them at the top of Junior 4 after the opening encounters.
Randalstown started brightly playing at a high tempo that Ballymoney struggled to contain, but it took nearly a quarter of the game before they opened their account.
The ‘Town scrum was on top from the start, taking three early strikes against the head, while James Millar and Mark Strange were well to the fore in carrying ball to the opposition. Ballymoney’s tactic of using the breeze to kick long was giving Andy Harris ample opportunity to run it straight back at them, and the young full back gained his side good ground on a number of occasions.
Eventually with 25 minutes played ‘Town got a deserved opening try. From the base of a ruck on the home 10 meter line Benji Cathcart spotted space in behind and his clever chip was chased down by Peter McWhirter, who gathered and touched down.
Ballymoney however hit straight back and after pinning the visitors in their own 22 they rumbled over from a lineout to level the scores.
As half time approached ‘Town were still looking dangerous and Millar made a powerful break in midfield to breach the home defence. McWhirter then hit a great line at speed and with only one defender left popped to Ben Winter who scampered home to touch down under the posts. Conor Murray added the conversion quickly followed by a further penalty on the stroke of half time to give Randalstown a 15-5 lead going into the break.
‘Town started the second period with a bang again displaying great continuity. Several phases of play stretched Ballymoney from one side to the other before Ricky Loughlin burrowed over for a try. The visitors then appeared to sit back and allow the home side to create a few opportunities of their own. After a period of pressure in the ‘Town 22 they managed to squeeze over for a converted try.
That ended the scoring although ‘town came close again in the closing stages on a couple of occasions, with McWhirter being denied a second try by a cynical obstruction.
‘Town would be disappointed not to have put more points on the board, which their display deserved, but a win against a dogged Ballymoney team is always enjoyable. This is a young 2nd string, average age dipping under 23, who are obviously benefitting from training together as a team, and reaping the reward to date with a 100% record in the early stages of the season.
Andy Harris and Mark Strange straight out of Antrim Grammar, together with Jamie Orr and Conor Murray progressing from last season’s under 19s, have blended well with old hands like Sammy Hyndman, Ricky Loughlin , Matty Turner, and Ben Hamilton. The afternoon’s stand out players were McWhirter and Millar and it was good to welcome back Dave Harris at sub, whose experience will be vital as the season progresses.
The seconds have a break next week as the scheduled game against Ards has been postponed to the following week which will see both 2nds and 3rds entertain their Ards counterparts at Neillsbrook.

Randalstown 3rd XV 3 Larne 3rd XV 43
CLICK HERE for pictures by Marc Lawrence
This was a bit of a disappointment for ‘Town 3s against a Larne side they ran close in both encounters last season. The performance was not without it’s plus points as the team looked good in the set piece and individual performances could not be faulted. In the end the superior organisation of the Larne outfit made a significant difference on the day.
With a number of changes from the team that were defeated by PSNI last week the 3rd Xv took on a strong Larne side. The home side, missing their inspirational out half Adie Johnston, started strongly and with good work from the forwards especially Pedlow, Paine and Conceiceao were equal to a Larne side containing a number of experienced players. The half time score of 3-12 in favour of Larne was not a true reflection of the game.
However the superior organisation of the visitors began to tell after halftime and despite great defence from Shaun McCrory, Andrew Sloane, and Rab Fleck the Larne side ran in a number of tries against a tiring home side to make the final score 3-43.
Next Saturday the 3rds travel to Ballymoney 4ths for what will undoubtedly be a tough encounter.
The next pre-match lunch is scheduled for 25th October. As usual reserve your place by contacting Adie Johnston – adie_johnston@hotmail.com.

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