It was a busy day at Neillsbrook on Satuday as Randalstown Rugby Club hosted its annual 15-a-side tournament.
After the action on the pitch, the day concluded 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 one: Randalstown 10, Larne 5; QUB 26, Ophir 0; Randalstown 3, QUB 5; Larne 34, Ophir 0; Randalstown 24, Ophir 7.
Section two: Carrick 0, Coleraine 7; Ballymoney 0, Coleraine 33; Carrick 15, Ballymoney 5.
Randalstown defeated Coleraine 15-0 in the first semi-final 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.
Randalstown went ahead in their opening game agianst Larne when Chris Donnelly 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.
Randalstown were unluky not to win their next game against Queen’s where Conor Murray kicked the home side’s only points from a penalty, with the students settling the tie with a lone try.
A rejigged line-up for the final game against Ophir saw Daryl McGarry return to action after a long injury lay-off last season and he made an immediate impact by scoring the opening try, while Goodrich, Michael Smith and Murray also crossed the try line.
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 in the semi-final.
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.
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. 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.
Then came the eagerly awaiting beer tasting as Hillstown Brewery arrived with their prizewinning craft beers to give the by now very thirsty patrons an insight into something a bit different.