There were several friendly games played in the province across the U18, U16 & U14 age groups.
Banbridge RFC Junior Club were awarded “junior Club of the Year” at the recent Banbridge District Sports Association Awards held at a gala evening at the Belmont Hotel. Despite tough competition, the success demonstrated by Banbridge RFC at youth level and the continuing growth of their mini section won through. The number of Banbridge players to have achieved recognition at Ulster youth level and beyond continues a long line of success within a club that caters for all levels and abilities in enjoying the game of rugby. This achievement is credit to the committee, coaches, parents and all the players throughout Banbridge RFC. Congratulations to all involved.
Randalstown Under 14 & 18 youth teams travelled to Ballymena Rugby Club for the final pre-season friendly before the start of the premier league on a dry but cool autumn morning, perfect conditions for the game of rugby.
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UNDER 14 MATCH First Half: The match started well for Randalstown, when after two minutes, back row forward Dominic O’Connor broke through two tackles and passed to wing Jack Johnson to score in the corner. The difficult conversion was missed by Oran Gilbert.
Randalstown kept the pressure up with Ross Swan making hard yards past a number of Ballymena players before back row forward Brandon McAllister passed to fly half Peter Cullen who scored Randalstown’s second try after four minutes of play. The try was converted by Oran Gilbert.
After being tackled to the ground, outside centre Stefhan Gabbidon-Lyttle popped the ball to forward Brandon McAllister who scored under the posts.
Randalstown’s final score of the half came from a kick forward from fly half Peter Cullen. The ball was retrieved by Stefhan Gabbidon-Lyttle who offloaded to Dominic O’Connor who passed along the back line to wing Jack Johnson who scored his second try in the corner. The conversion was missed by Oran Gilbert. First Half ended 22 – 0 to Randalstown.
Second Half The second half had barely started when one of the Ballymena players was injured and had to leave the field of play.
From the restart Randalstown took the ball into contact and pushed Ballymena back to Randalstown’s ten-yard line. After a few phases of play, scrum half Oran Gilbert took the ball and kicked over the top. Outside centre Stefhan Gabbidon-Lyttle’s chase was successful as he gained possession and passed the ball to Peter Cullen who was unstoppable down the wing and ran in to score under the posts. The conversion was missed by Oran Gilbert.
After the restart Oran Gilbert repeated his box kick over Ballymena’s defence for Stefhan Gabbidon-Lyttle to chase and score under the posts. The try was converted by Oran Gilbert.
Randalstown’s final try was scored in the corner by prop forward Marco De Silva after a storming run down the wing. The conversion was missed by Cormac Devlin.
The match finished 39 to 0 to Randalstown.
The entire Randalstown team played exceptionally well. Randalstown’s Man Of The Match goes to Dominic O’Connor for running the hard yards, carrying aggressively and intelligently, winning everything in the lineout and putting in the big hits on the larger Ballymena players.
Ballymena U18 28-22 Randalstown U18
U18s Randalstown made the short journey to face their Ballymena neighbours in the final club friendly fixture before the league commences next week.
Unexpected late cry offs meant that the Randalstown team had to play this match with only 14 men.
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Time and again Ballymena were able to exploit the numerical advantage in the backs and turned around at the break leading 28-7.
The half time team talk was simple- pride in the jersey, personal performance and win the second half!
These were the key words which the determined young Randalstown players took onto the pitch. To a man they began to control the game and starve the home team of any quality possession.
Randalstown, being cheered on by a large vocal travelling support, began to run the ball from all areas of the pitch through quality players like Michael O’Connell and Malachy McIvor, found themselves only 28-24 in arrears when the referee called a halt to proceedings.
James McBride had a very impressive debut in the pack before retiring injured. Ryan O’Dea had a good game playing in his unaccustomed position of centre. Shea McLaughlin crashed over for a couple of individual tries but special mention must go to the heroic displays of the O’Donnell brothers. These two quiet young men put in exceptional performances in defence and but for their efforts the level of the defeat would have been far greater.
With a league match away to Banbridge this Saturday full attendance is expected at training this week (6.30-8.30pm at the club). All new players will be made very welcome.
Meanwhile the Carrick Youth sides continued there preparation for the start of the league with fixtures against Ballynahinch. At U18 level Carrick secured a 32-5 win while a U16s level the home side won 7-0 with a late score in injury time. At U14s level in a free flowing game the home side win 42-26.
At U14s Larne played Civil Service. A Good performance from the Civil Service U14s away to Larne with tries from Joe Kane, Jake Curran (2), James Ritchie (2), Mattie Hamilton (2), Josh Jones and Joe Crutchley with four conversions from Jake Curran and one from Mattie Hamilton, leaving the final scoreline 55-5 the Civil Service U14s, U16s and U18s all host Carrick next week.
City of Derry RFC hosted their Coleraine counterparts. The U18 Friendly was won by Coleraine RFC with a 34-17 scoreline.
The U16 Friendly ended 12 points to City of Derry v 10 points to Coleraine RFC. The U14 scoreline was 53 points to Coleraine v 0 for City of Derry.
At Portadown RFC City of Armagh U16 team scored 76 points v Portadown RFC U16s.