It was a winning start to the season for Randalstown with a 17-6 success on a pleasant Saturday afternoon in Lisburn.
Despite a slow start, a high penalty count against, and playing slightly under par on the day the Neillsbrook men had the game more or less in the bag by half time.
The home side started quickly and drew first blood with a successful penalty attempt 10 minutes in.
From the restart ‘Town conceded another penalty deep in Lisburn territory but their kicker didn’t make many yards with his kick to touch allowing ‘Town to keep them contained within their own 22.
Although under a bit of pressure in the scrum Liam Hurrell was able to pick up at the base and pop to scrum half McWhirter who in turn spotted a gap and ran in under the posts leaving a straightforward conversion.
It wasn’t long before Lisburn kicked a long range penalty, narrowing the gap to a single point.
Subs McBrien and Kelso were introduced relatively early and they both made their presence felt as ‘town continued to enjoy territorial advantage.
With only a few minutes of the half remaining and following some good work by centre Connolly, Turner was able to gather and scamper in for a well taken try, again below the posts, which was duly converted.
The wind had been mostly in ‘Town’s face for the duration of the half so it was a comfortable cushion to turn around on.
The second half continued with ‘Town enjoying good possession and territory, but the home defence was sufficient to thwart attacking attempts for the most part. Knowles and Wilson had an opportunity down the left flank which the home touch judge ruled out.
As the clock ticked down ‘Town were eventually on the right end of a penalty decision and Connolly converted the long range effort to stretch the lead to 17-6 in the visitors favour. Although Lisburn attacked again from the restart and exerted some considerable pressure on the ‘Town line the defence held firm and the home side were unable to breach it.
This was a mixed bag for Randalstown with a few areas coaches Longwell and Strange will no doubt want to focus on in training during the week.
The scrum, which had looked very strong in previous outings this year, creaked a bit throughout the game, and the penalty count against was high but a big positive was the defence which was spirited, determined and impressive for the duration.
A late injury to Hurrell is hopefully not as serious as originally thought so selection for this Saturday when the first XV entertain Coleraine at Neillsbrook should see the majority available.
The Second XV travel to Cooke 2nds on Saturday afternoon while the Third XV entertain CIYMS 3rd XV in their debut at Junior level.