Tournament report Randalstown 15s….. It was a busy day at Neillsbrook on Satuday opening with the annual 15-a-side tournament and finishing up with a Beer and Ale tasting hosted by the local Hillstown Brewery.

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It was a busy day at Neillsbrook on Satuday opening with the annual 15-a-side tournament and finishing up with a Beer and Ale tasting hosted by the local Hillstown Brewery.

The main business of the day commenced sharp at 1 pm with hosts Randalstown kicking off against Larne on pitch 1 while Carrick and Coleraine locked horns on pitch 2.

The results were:

Section 1:                                                            Section 2:

Randalstown 10   Larne   5                            Carrick 0   Coleraine 7

QUB  26   Ophir  0                                             Ballymoney 0   Coleraine 33

Randalstown 3   QUB  5                                  Carrick 15   Ballymoney 5

Larne 34   Ophir 0

Randalstown 24   Ophir 7

The semi-finals were then played between Randalstown and Coleraine and QUB and Carrick.

Randalstown defeated Coleraine 15-0 while QUB went through against Carrick and so the hosts were through to the final – an excellent achievement.

The pool games were keenly contested with some good scoring in the 25 minutes allotted.  ‘Town got off to a bit of an inauspicious start when the ball when straight into touch from the kick off, but they quickly made amends with a powerful scrummage against the head and gained possession and a penalty opportunity for their endeavours.   Unfortunately the kick rebounded off the crossbar but ‘Town were still deep in Larne territory and within inches of the line.  David Smith and hooker Stevenson went within a hair’s breadth but Larne defended well and cleared with a long kick ahead.  Waiting to gather on the wing was young Chris Donnelly and he gathered, turned and sprinted in from halfway to give ‘Town the lead.  It was shortlived as Larne struck back with an unconverted try of their own to level it before half time.

The deciding score in the second half came from Goodrich to secure victory.  Again some very competent scrummaging from ‘Town laid the foundations and when the ball came to the backline Goodrich had the strength and determination to barge over.

Next up for Randalstown were Queens and they had looked very useful in their previous game against Ophir, with a pacey backline showing very slick handling skills.   It was nip and tuck for the entire 25 minutes, ‘Town edging a narrow lead courtesy of a Conor Murray penalty.  Queens started the second half very well and ‘Town were forced to defend on their own line for a considerable time.  Most of the spectators thought McBurney and Murray had worked hard enough to clear, but amidst some confusion Queens were awarded a try.  The last five minutes saw most of the action in Queens territory and ‘town were unlucky not to seal another win.  Donnelly went close but was well tackled and a couple of errant passes allowed Queens to hold firm and come away with the win.

When ‘Town took the pitch against Ophir the line up was much rejigged and it was pleasing to see Daryl McGarry in action again after a long period of injury last season.   He made an immediate impact as he ran onto a ball at pace and scooted in out wide.  Murray added the tricky conversion.  Some nice work by Strange, Michael Smith and McBurney  should have reaped further reward but a pass was intercepted by Ophir and the momentum was stalled.

Undetered ‘Town regrouped and regathered possession, then Goodrich, who was having a very lively afternoon in the centre, picked up a loose ball and ran in below the posts.

A momentary lapse in concentration let Ophir back into the game with a converted try.  ‘Town weren’t finished however and Foster broke up the middle barging his way past several Ophir defenders before offloading to Dee Millar.  Millar is an athletic second row and made more good yards setting Michael Smith up with a lovely offload for a try – again under the posts which Murray converted.   Murray then scored a fine try out wide to round it off.

It was onward and upward to the semi-finals, and the hosts as runners up in their group took on Coleraine, winners of group 2.   In recent seasons Randalstown have enjoyed a measure of success against Coleraine and again to the delight of the growing crowd they maintained that record with a hard fought 15-0 win.

As had been a notable factor all afternoon ‘town’s scrum was operating beautifully and they took one against the head in the early encounters to put a stamp on proceedings.  It was a war of attrition in the middle of the park as both teams put a huge effort particularly in defence.  Coleraine had an early opportunity to put three points on the board but it went wide.  From the restart ‘town were up quickly to disrupt Coleraine’s rhythm and cause their number 7 to fluff a pass.   Donnelly sprinted on to the ball and showed Coleraine a clean pair of heels with another fine try from long range.

More of the same followed in the second half with intense play but ‘Town were looking like the better side, and were rewarded with a penalty for their endeavours, which Connolly converted.  In a final flourish McGarry was cynically taken out late at Coleraine attempted to break down the attack but Donnelly was alert to the chance and again had the pace to race in out wide.


In a repeat of the pool game Randalstown faced Queens in the final .  Had they enough gas left in the tank at this stage to edge out the students?  Unfortunately it was just a match too far for the hosts on this occasion but as the 7-0 scoreline suggests it was another tight and entertaining encounter.  Nevertheless Queens were worthy winners as they played some very slick running rugby throughout the afternoon.


Thanks to all the teams who took part and despite the odd downpour ensured the crowd had a very enjoyable afternoon of rugby.   Thanks also to the referees who officiated efficiently throughout, and of course to the Randalstown back room men who worked hard in preparation to ensure that pitches and clubhouse were in fine condition for the season opener.

The coaching team at Randalstown have to be very pleased with the overall performance of their charges, several of whom are only in their second season of senior rugby and have only limited experience at first fifteen level.   They certainly did not look out of place and it is virtually impossible to single out any individual such was the performance level turned in by each and every Randalstown player.   It was a pleasure to watch and hopefully bodes well for what will be a long hard season for all 3 senior teams.

The firsts have a friendly against Portadown next Saturday at Neillsbrook and then they travel to Lisburn on 29th August for the league opener.

Following on from the success of the afternoon, Chairman Adie Johnston welcomed everyone later in the clubhouse for the Beer & Ale Tasting evening.  He had a small bit of business,  marking last season’s success,  to attend to as he presented 2nd XV captain Sammy Hyndman with the Ulster Branch League Winners Plaque.777

Then came the eagerly awaiting beer tasting as  Hillstown Brewery arrived with their prizewinning craft beers to give the by now very thirsty patrons in Randalstown an insight into something a little bit different.  Hillstown of course are a very locally based company, situation between Randalstown and Ahoghill,  and are already well known for their high quality beef products and the on site restaurant.   4 beer/ale types were sampled and the favourite seemed to be the ‘Spitting Lama’.  It was interesting to hear the story behind the production of these craft beers, and a very different experience for many to taste them.

Hillstown can be found on the usual media – facebook, twitter and check out for yourselves.


Chairman Adie Johnston(left), event organiser John curry (3rd from left) with the guys from Hillstown Brewery.

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