Carrickfergus Rugby Club’s 1st XV edged to a 23-22 win over rivals Larne in a friendly played at Woodlawn on Saturday.
Two Johnny Sheriff penalties put Carrick ahead and they extended their lead on 20 minutes when Aaron McKinney went over following quick ruck ball and a strong carry from blind-side Johnny Magill. Sheriff added the conversion points to give Carrick a 13-0 advantage.
Larne the got their first points from a Phil Andrews penalty two minutes later but the home team continued to dominate and had a number of chances to extend their lead.
At the half-hour mark, one of the Larne props had to go off and scrums became uncontested, removing a an area of definite advantage for Carrick.
The visitors scored after five minutes when some indifferent Carrick defending allowed second row Colin McKinty to race in unopposed from the 22. The try was converted by Andrews to narrow the gap to three points.
However, the home side began to take control again and increased their lead with another Sheriff penalty after eight minutes of the half.
In the 30th minute of the half Aaron McKinney went over again - this time following a decisive break by outside centre Johnny Cullen. Sheriff added the points to put the home side in the driving seat at 23-10.
Larne stepped it up a gear and with two minutes of normal time remaining, Ryan McAlister forced his way over the Carrick line. From a difficult angle, Andrews converted to narrow the gap to six points.
In a lengthy period of injury time, it was all Larne and they got their reward when, following a period of pressure, Andrews’s cross-kick caught Carrick napping and the Stuart Smyth was able to gather and go over unopposed. Andrews’ conversion kick, which would have won the match for them, came back off the post and Carrick ended up 23-22 winners.
Larne will feel they deserved at least a draw because of their never-say-die attitude.