Larne Grammar School’s run in this season’s Medallion Shield came to an end at the third round stage against Down High on Tuesday.
The squad travelled to Downpatrick knowing the game would be a very close affair, and that’s exactly how it turned out with Larne edged out on a 17-15 scoreline.
Larne elected to play into the wind in the first half and were pleased to reach the break 10-5 down.
Down High drew first blood in the 13th minute after a converted try gave them a 7-0 lead. This was almost immediately pegged back with an unconverted score from the restart after a penalty was tapped quickly by scrum-half Lee Haddock, and the ball recycled to allow prop Alastair Black to touch down.
Just before the interval, Down’s out-half converted a straightforward penalty to leave the hosts facing a stiff breeze in the second half with a slender five-point advantage.
Larne began the second half with a number of forays into Down territory before Alistair Burke converted their first penalty of the entire campaign making it 10-8 to the hosts.
A probing kick from out-half Jonny Glasgow forced the Down High into conceding a five-metres scrum from their own line after a knock-on from a line-out. This resulted in number eight Burke crashing over and converting his try to give the visitors a five-point lead.
Late in the game the home side scored and converted a try to lead 17-15 going into the final minutes of play. A subsequent injury to Larne’s open-side flanker, McVeigh, resulted in a 30-minute stoppage in play.
When the game restarted there was less than two minutes on the clock. With Larne defending their line, they were unable to break out and score the all-important points.
Larne Grammar’s attention now switches to the quarter-finals of the Medallion Bowl. With three County Antrim schools among the eight teams left, a local derby is a real possibility.