With Randalstown’s First XV not in action on Saturday, the spotlight fell on the Neillsbrook club’s Second and Third teams.
Both sides duly stepped up to the mark with the Seconds seeing off their Lisburn counterparts by four points.
The Third string had a bit more to spare as they romped to a comprehensive win over Ballynahinch Sixths.
Randalstown 21, Lisburn 17: Saturday afternoon saw the first really wet weather of this season but both sides endeavoured to play some open rugby.
Randalstown had the better of the opening exchanges but despite this conceded first blood to the visitors with 10 minutes played. The Lisburn forwards were instrumental in gaining territory advantage which resulted in a converted try.
It wasn’t too long however until the seconds recovered their composure. The visitors identified that the ‘Town line was coming up quickly and flat and wisely tried to chip over the top.
Conor Murray was waiting and equal to the high ball. He made good ground before Turner cleared the lines. The clearance didn’t quite find touch though and a missed tackle out on the wing handed advantage back to Lisburn. Trying to make reparation ‘Town gave away a scrum in the middle of the field.
Lisburn fluffed the opportunity to gather and clear their lines as Ian Hume, like a good back row forward should, hassled the scrum half into making an error then pounced on the loose ball and barged over the line. Murray added the conversion to level the scores.
The game remained nip and tuck until Turner again put in a great clearance kick down the line. Orr and Mawhinney sped up in chase and the Lisburn winger found the combination a bit hot to handle. Mawhinney was able to gather and touch down in the corner. Murray slotted over the tricky conversion.
‘Town were playing well through the phases and retaining the ball at this stage and when the back line started to move full back Murray time his moment of entry perfectly as he gathered at pace and stormed in, adding the conversion and setting up a comfortable cushion.
As half time approached Lisburn converted a penalty to narrow that cushion to 21-10.
The visitors had a good start to the second half and luckily for ‘town they failed to convert yet another penalty opportunity.
It was fully 25 minutes before Randalstown had any scoring opportunity, but the effort sailed just wide of the posts.
Neither team were getting very far but Lisburn stuck to their task and were eventually rewarded with a try out wide. The tricky conversion also sailed over and it was game on again.
As the clock wound down ‘Town upped their game considerably and were camped in the visitors 22. The price of errors though saw the visiting pack win a scrum and get a sizeable shove on to get them out of danger territory. The lineout worked well for the home side and they continued to try to run at Lisburn but the visiting defence held firm. It was in the end a narrow victory for the seconds but a good one nonetheless against a Lisburn side currently sitting 4th in the league. It should be a confidence boost for the young second XV as they have returned to winning ways in the last 2 weeks.
This Saturday the seconds have a break before travelling to Donegal the following week started an 8 week run of fixtures without a break. A few injury niggles will hopefully have cleared up before the Donegal game.
Randalstown III 45, Ballynahinch VI 12: Meanwhile on the other pitch ‘Town 3rd XV were running riot against Ballynahinch. They took the field with a much changed side from their last game two weeks ago and were soon on the attack against the visitors.
Early scores from McGarry and McClenaghan gave the home side an early comfortable lead. With the advantage in the scrums Randalstown were able to dominate much of the play and further scores gave them a 25-0 lead. However complacency and some good play gave Ballynahinch the opportunity to grab a late first half try to leave the score 25-5 at halftime.
The second half saw the home side move the ball to the wings and with experienced outhalf Adie Johnston making a number of breaks it wasn’t long before the tries came.
Good work by Harry White and Ash McClenaghan gave Fergal Connon the opportunity to score two well worked tries.
With Randalstown now comfortably ahead Ballynahinch came back into the game with a great score under the posts and only poor handling denied them a third.
The try of the match was viewed from the clubhouse as action continued on the 1sts pitch when Ryan McGarry gathered in midfield and sprinted in to seal a great win.