Report Carrickfergus RFC I XV Bonus Point Win over Randalstown RFC Qualifying 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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The Maxol-sponsored Carrick 1st XV moved,temporarily at least, back to the top of Section 2 of the Kukri Qualifing League with a bonus point win by 25 points to 3 against Randalstown at Tom Simms Memorial Park on Saturday 10 January. The match was played in very difficult conditions, with a strong wind blowing straight down the pitch and an arctic wind chill factor. Kicking was difficult, and at times hazardous, and throwing into the line-out became a bit of a lottery. Both sides had high error and penalty counts and handling was a problem in the very cold conditions. However, Carrick managed the conitions better than their opponents and, playing into the strong wind in the first half, still came out with a 5 points to 3 lead at half-time. Sensibly, they kicked only when they had to and kept ball in hand to try to make ground. Randalstown, despite having a dominant scrum in the first half and the lion’s share of territory, could not turn this into points thanks partly to excellent Carrick defending but also partly because they did not make good use of the elements when they were in their favour. Carrick, on the other hand, having survived playing into a virtual gale in the first half, made good use of the breeze in the second half, with Wady, Whittall and Topping all kicking sensibly, to keep Randalstown under pressure. They helped their cause considerably in the second half by getting their scrum problems sorted out and became dominant themselves in this area. For Carrick, the forwards again took most of the plaudits, it not being a day for the backs to display their handling skills. The half-backs, Luke Whittall and Kenny Topping, kicked well in the second half as did full-back Jason Wady who made and scored Carrick’s second try. Up front, Curtis Rea did well at the base of a scrum under pressure in the first half by picking and driving to nullify any Randalstown advantage from going forward. Second rows Chris Rodgers and Andy Kinkaid again had fine games with the latter playing a major part in Carrick’s first half try. Ross Marsden was effective in the loose and capped another good game with an excellent try late in the second half while his blind-side colleague Matthew Fisher carried and tackled strongly until he had to go off injured in the second half. Prop Robbie Williams did well when he came on in the second half, scrummaging solidly and producing a number of turn-overs at the break-down.
With the strong breeze behind them, Randalstowbn kept Carrick penned in and around their own 22 for most of the first quarter. All they had to show for it, however, was a penalty goal after five minutes. They had a long range shot at goal after thirteen minutes which fell short and then five minutes later missed with a much simpler chance. Carrick, meanwhile, tried to keep the ball as much as possible when they did get possession and this tactic, combined with a strong defensive effort, worked well. With half-time approaching, the visitors still had nothing more than the solitary penalty to show for their efforts. Then even this advantage was taken from them when, with five minutes remaining until half-time,Carrick took a tap penalty on their own 22 and Andy Kinkaid burst through a couple of tackles and demonstrated a fine hand-off to make 50 metres into the Randalstown 22 before passing to Peter Simpson who touched down to the left of the posts. Luke Whittal was unable to convert into the very strong head-wind. Carrick held on comfortably for the few remaining minutes to take a 5 points to 3 lead into half-time.
Very quickly after the re-start, Carrick extended their lead to 10 pointsto 3 when an attemted grubber by the visitors on half-was was fly-hacked into Randalstown territory by Jason Wady and then well controlled with his boot by Kyle Jordan to get the ball over the line where Wady won the race to touch down. The try was not converted but Carrick extended their lead a few minutes later when Luke Whittall put over a penalty. The home side now had more or less total territorial dominance and, with their scrummaging much improved, had control of the game. Howeve, it was not until the twenty-eighth minute of the half that they added to their score with a penalty try. With Randalstown penned close to their line, Carrick were awarded a 5 metre scrum and as they drove forward and wheeled to get the touch-down, a Randalstown player infringed and the referee aawarded the penalty try. Luke Whittall put over the conversion to give the home side a 20 points to 3 lead with just ten minutes remaining. Carrick continued to dominate and then at the end of normal time, Carrick ran back a loose Rndalstown kick, re-cycled quickly and some crisp passing put Ross Marsden in space and the open-side raced in for a try in the corner. This was not converted but Carrick noew had an unassailable lead and a four try bonus point. To their credit, the visitors put Carrick under pressure in the few minutes of injury time remaing, going through ten or twelve phases before turning the ball over under the attentions of the aggressive Carrick defence. The referee blew for time with Carrick the winners by 25 points to 3.
This was a competent peformance by Carrick in very difficult conditions. They now have a week-end off before facing City of Derry II in the second round of the Towns’ Cup on Saturday 24th January.
The Carrick team which faced Randalstown was:-
J. Wady; K. Jordan, J. Cullen(Capt), J. Sheriff, P. Simpson; L.Whittall, K. Topping; A. Gibney,N. Hanna, M. Smiley(R. Williams), A. Kinkaid, C. Rodgers, M. Fisher(R. Crymble), R. Marsden, C. Rea.

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