REPORT Carrick 1s v Grosvenor 1s

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1st XV v Grosvenor (h)

The Maxol-Sponsored Carrick 1st XV made heavy weather of defeating bottom of the table Grosvenor by 23 points to 17 at Tom Simms Memorial Park on Saturday 27th February. The win does keep them at the top of Section 2 of the Kukri Qualifying League, still three points clear of Coleraine who also won on Saturday but did not pick up a bonus point. The game against Grosvenor was played in probably the best weather conditions for rugby since late Autumn, with a dryish pitch and only the bitter cold a problem when it came to handling. Carrick did not play that badly but were perhaps taken by surprise by a Grosvenor side who had clearly come to play and not just make up the numbers. The Carrick scrum was under pressure early on but they had sorted that problem by half-time and almost totally dominated territory and possession in the second half. However, their defence let them down on two occasions, both lapses leading to Grosvenor tries, and try as they might they could not conjure a try in the second half despite their dominance. Conor Cambridge, who had another good game at scrum-half, was perhaps unfortunate to be denied a try half-way through the second half with a questionable decision by the referee that there had been crossing. For Carrick, Ryan McGonigle again made a lot of yards with his strong carries as did Chris Rodgers and Andy Kinkaid. Luke Whittal had a good game at out-half, scoring one try, making another with a well placed kick and being unlucky not to have created a second for himself in the third quarter when Peter Simpson just could not get the ball away in the tackle.

After a scrappy opening five minutes, Carrick took the lead when, for the second week in a row, Aaron McKinney won the race to touch down when a well placed kick up to the line was not gathered by the defending side. On this occasion, it was Luke Whittal who put in the kick and the out-half added the conversion points to give the home side a 7 points to nil lead. On the ten minute mark, Grosvenor missed with a penalty attempt but a couple of minutes later scored a try after having shoved Carrick off the ball on their own put-in at a scrum inside the Carrick 22. Following the scrum they went through the phases before one of their forwards broke a couple of Carrick tackles to touch down near the posts. The conversion would have levelled the scores but the quick off the mark Conor Cambridge charged down the kick. Carrick then began to exert some pressure of their own and from a re-set scrum Aaron McKinney was put into space and after quick transfer via Reece Hamilton, Luke Whittal was on hand to take the scoring pass. The out-half added the conversion points to give the home side a 14 points to 5 lead. He added a further three points on the half-hour mark when Carrick were awarded a penalty in front of the posts following a strong carry by Ryan McGonigle into the opposition 22. The home side had further chances to set up scoring opportunities in the run up to half-time, particularly when a thirty metre run by Chris Rodgers was not properly exploited, and it was the visitors who scored next. Following a penalty for off-side they set up a line-out 5 metres out and after securing the ball, picked and drove their way over the line. The try was not converted and, after Luke Whittal had missed with a long range penalty effort, Carrick went into half-time with 17 points to 10 lead.

Carrick began the second half strongly and after another strong carry by Ryan McGonigle moved the ball right and then left with backs and forwards handling but, after a half-break by Luke Whittal, Grosvenor infringed at the break-down and probably should have earned themselves a yellow card but got away with just conceding a penalty.  Luke Whittal converted to take Carrick into a 20 points to 10 lead.

The home side then pretty much took control of territory and possession but did not show the patience needed to set up scoring opportunities. They did appear to have scored their third try when Conor Cambridge went over after Carrick had shoved Grosvenor back at a 5-metre scrum but the scissors move he initiated on the blind-side was ruled by the referee to have involved crossing. Earlier, Luke Whittal put Peter Simpson in space on the blind side of a ruck and the winger tried to cut inside the Grosvenor full-back to leave Whitall with a  clear run to the line from  return pass but Simpson could not get the ball free in the tackle. In the event, it was Grosvenor who got the next score as the game entered the final quarter when their blind side flanker ran back a kick from his own 22 through some appalling Carrick tackling to score near the posts. The try was converted to take the visitors to within 3 points of Carrick. The hosts were fortunate that they had such a degree of territorial control that Grosvenor were forced to continue to attempt to attack from deep on the few occasions they had the ball and thankfully there were no further serious Carrick defensive lapses. They extended their lead when Luke Whittal put over another penalty with four minutes remaining and, at the end, were comfortably in control in terms of possession and territory if not on the score-board!

This was far from one of Carrick’s best performances of the season but credit must be given to their opponents who defended well and took their chances when they came. Carrick just need to show more patience when they have control of the ball- particularly if their opponents have a propensity to infringe at ruck and maul as did Grosvenor-and show more discretion in going wide. They still have four games to go and to secure the League title will probably have to win all of them; they will certainly need to be better than they were on Saturday to beat Coleraine and Enniskillen (twice). Next Saturday they travel to face Randalstown who gave them a tough game at Carrick in December and will be looking for an improved performance compared with that against Grosvenor.

The Carrick team which faced Grosvenor was:-
M. Black; P. Simpson, R. Hamilton, A. McKinney, B. Alexander; L. Whittal, C. Cambridge; A. Gibney, N. Hanna, J. McIlwaine (R. Williams), A. Kinkaid, C. Rodgers (M. Gordon), A. McKeen, N. Marsden, R. McGonigle (Capt)
Other results
The 2nd XV match against CIYMS 2s which was to be played on Friday night was postponed.
The 3rd XV match (v Newry 2s) and the 4th
XV match (v Armoy) were both conceded by the opposition.
On Sunday the Ladies XV hosted City of Derry Ladies and were beaten 7 points to 22.

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