It’s Qualifying Three rugby for Larne next season after they were edged out by Randalstown inthe Qualifying 2 relegation play-off at Eaton Park, Ballymena on Saturday.
Larne can count themselves unlucky to have come out the wrong side of a 6-3 scoreline after dominating large portions of the match.
Randalstown, however, had the better of the opening exchanges and spurned a couple of penalty chances before slotting one over after 10 minutes for a 3 – 0 lead.
Larne worked their way back into the encounter but an injury to wing-forward Gareth Jamison enabled Randalstown to dominate the breakdown and their strong defence and frequent turnovers prevented the Glynn men capitalising on their attacking play.
Larne’s only score came on the 30th minute with Jonathon Milliken slotting over a penalty after a period of sustained pressure. Randalstown hit back almost immediately with a penalty of their own to restore their three-point advantage.
Heavy rain and blustery conditions made handling difficult for both sides and, with the remainder of the game becoming a battle of attrition. Fourteen-man Larne were unable to break down the Randalstown defence who made their extra man count.
It was a a bitterly dissapointing end to the season when it looked as if they had completed the great escape with three games remaining. The squad will now have to lick their wounds and re-group for the 2013-14 campaign.
With the fresh impetus of highly successful Under-19s coming into the side, the team will be looking for automatic promotion. The first-team players and officials would like to thank the large support which turned out for Saturday’s clash.
Larne: C Rea, C Gibson, D Thomson, M Crampsey, J McCluggage (Capt), G Jamison, G Wright, R Maybin, R Garrett, J Milliken, R Thomas, G Mills, S Montgomery, J Hall, M Agnew.