REPORTS Randalstown 1s v Grosvenor 1s and Randalstown 3s v Banbridge 4s

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Randalstown 1st XV 24 Grosvenor 1st XV 6
The match was preceded by lunch in the clubhouse and Randalstown were pleased to welcome some of our sponsors together with guests from Grosvenor RFC.
Club President Derek Waddell welcomed the guests and thanked the sponsors for their ongoing support.
It was his sad duty to pass on condolences from all at Randalstown to our Chairman Dr Adrian Johnston, following the death of his father Mr Ian Johnston during the week after a short illness.
Representatives of Power NI, Indicators International, Antrim Credit Union and Bank of Ireland were present. Damien Martin from Assure Services was along to view his advertising board outside the clubhouse.
Members and friends are urged to support our sponsors whenever possible as their support is vital to Randalstown RFC and we are extremely grateful for it. Check out their websites and information on the advertising boards at the club.
It was a cold but mainly dry afternoon as the match got underway. Randalstown, traditionally slow starters, were very slow to start on this occasion, the lack of competitive action in recent weeks perhaps contributing to a bit of ring rustiness.
Early on the chance of first blood fell to the visitors but the kick sailed wide and ‘Town went unpunished. Grosvenor however retained good field position and kept the home side pinned in their own 22, where a further penalty in a very kickable position was conceded, and on this occasion converted.
Grosvenor squandered a further penalty opportunity before ‘Town eventually won one of their own and cleared to half way for their first foray into anything close to enemy territory. The Smith brothers combined well to make good yards up the right flank but were bundled into touch. The visitors were able to clear back down the pitch.
Still ‘Town were struggling to string together any attacking phases and with half an hour on the clock Grosvenor converted yet another penalty to take a 6-0 lead.
As they moved into the closing stages of the half things improved, and ‘Town began to gain some advantage, particularly up front in the set piece. The Smith brothers and Peter McWhirter worked very hard to retain possession and prevent any further scores from the visitors.
At the start of the second half ‘Town had to reshuffle slightly and David Millar slotted into the front row as McBrien had to retire. Emmet Crawford also entered the fray as Coby Mason suffered a dead leg. They settled well and began to make serious inroads into the visiting defence and after a series of scrums at close quarters, putting Grosvenor under a lot of pressure, a penalty try was awarded. McGlade added the conversion and the lead changed hands.
Shortly afterwards brother Niall crossed out wide to increase the lead, and from the restart he was on hand to gather a clearance kick and pass to Donnelly who took the ball at speed and raced in for a converted try.
Randalstown were starting to play to their full potential and good interplay between the backs and forwards saw the ball being moved well to Donnelly, again at pace and he scampered in for his brace.
‘Town were relieved to get these points in the bag. Had Grosvenor’s regular kicker been available(I am reliably informed by one of the travelling supporters that he is undergoing treatment for his bunions) they might have been more seriously punished in the first 30 minutes, making it tougher to come back.
Next Saturday the 1sts have no game again, but travel to Larne the following week for what will no doubt be a tough encounter.

Randalstown 3rd XV 52 Banbridge 4th XV 15
The thirds continued their recent good form with a convincing win over Banbridge, also at Neillsbrook on Saturday afternoon.
Skipper Ash McClenaghan got the first score after good work by Conor Ferry. Johnny Fullerton followed up with a fine intercept to add number 2. A couple of penalties kept the scoreboard ticking over before Blayne McGarry sliced through the visitor’s defence to score under the posts.
Good work from Daryl McGarry and Fullerton sent Ryan McGarry away for his first score just as the half time whistle went to leave ‘Town 28-3 up at the turning point.
The elder McGarry added the first try of the second half with a fine solo effort. It was only a matter of time before the third McGarry powered over after a scrum on the Banbridge 10 metre line.
Despite being down to 13 men Banbridge hit back with a converted try before Daryl McGarry took his tally to 2 following good work by Kyle Kirkwood.
The visitors continued to battle on and were able to add a further score before Ryan McGarry grabbed his hat-trick and Town’s 8th try to seal a comfortable win.
This victory puts ‘Town up to 4th in the table and is a boost before their cup game at Harlequins next week. The McGarry brothers are always a handful for the opposition and with a solid pack the thirds should be able to give a good account of themselves in the first round of the cup.
The seconds are in action midweek in the Crawford cup as they take on Ballymena 3rds at Eaton Park. The game will be played on Wednesday night, kick off 7.45 pm.
In other club news, well known Ulster rugby referee Mark Hermin has been appointed as Randalstown’s new Club and Comunity rugby officer. Mark plans to involve all local primary and post primary schools in developing the sport as part of the school curriculum. He plans to give as many young people both male and female the opportunity to experience the game which is growing in popularity. Mark hopes that by raising the profile of the game in schools he will be able to recruit new players for the Club who have recently began a ladies rugby section.

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