Randalstown turn up heat on freezing day at Neillsbrook

Randalstown move the ball quickly in Saturday's match against Ballymoney, played in front of a good crowd at Neillsbrook. INBT 04-825H
Randalstown move the ball quickly in Saturday's match against Ballymoney, played in front of a good crowd at Neillsbrook. INBT 04-825H

Randalstown Rugby Club First XV beat the big freeze to record an impressive 31-0 win over their Ballymoney counterparts on Saturday.

The weather put paid to the 2nd and 3rd XV fixtures at Neillsbrook on Saturday afternoon, but the First XV pitch was playable and with temperatures hovering around zero, Randalstown 1st XV took on their County Antrim neighbours in a crucial league game.

Randalstown players quickly surround an outnumbered Ballymoney opponent during Saturday's match at Neillsbrook. INBT 04-826H

Randalstown players quickly surround an outnumbered Ballymoney opponent during Saturday's match at Neillsbrook. INBT 04-826H

Despite the conditions Randalstown took the game to their tough opponents and two great scrums saw skilful No 8 Liam Hurrell touchdown for two tries to take the home side into an early 12-0 lead. Indeed the ‘Town scrum was a feature all afternoon, despite the visitors having a bulk advantage.

Lineouts also functioned well giving Smith and McWhirter a good platform to get the backline moving.

Ballymoney continued to provide a tough nut to crack and on occasions threatened the Randalstown line only for poor handling and some good defence by the home side to keep them out.

As half time approached Michael Smith, in the out half berth for the first time in a while and marshalling his back line well, went in for a well taken, well deserved try to put ‘Town 19 points clear at the interval.

Ballymoney began the second half on the attack and on more than one occasion should have opened their account but as the half continued Randalstown began to re assert their control of the game and a break by Daniel McGlade set up captain Dan Wilson to score under the posts after 60 minutes. McGlade added the straightforward conversion.

With the bonus point in the bag Randalstown continued to put pressure on the Ballymoney line and a break by Chris Donnelly set up Peter McWhirter to crash over for a fifth try to make the final score 31-0.

The win takes Randalstown back up to 4th place in Qualifying 2 just below their next opposition, Enniskillen in 2 weeks time, and with a game in hand.

Coach Alistair Strange was pleased with the effort by the whole team and highlighted the effort in the scrums from the forwards and the defensive work of all the team.

This Saturday the 2nd XV are not scheduled to have a game, but with a number of their games having been postponed in the last few weeks one of these may well be rearranged.

The 3rd XV still have to play the cup fixture against Academy but at the time of going to press no details were available.