Larne Grammar progressed to round three of Danske Bank Medallion Shield defeating Banbridge Academy 26-17 on Saturday.
The Banbridge pack played with tremendous intensity in the opening quarter of the game, and in the opening minutes their number eight made an incisive break through the Larne defence which, eventually, resulted in a converted score for the Banbridge out-half.
This early wake-up call sparked the Larne boys into action and after a tremendous passage of play during which Larne number eight Alistair Burke made a superb 50-metre run, full-back Cain Robinson took a scoring pass to slide in to the left of the posts and reduce the deficit to two points with an unconverted score.
As the rest of the half unfolded, it was clear that the Banbridge tactic was to use their heavier pack to wear down a well-organised Larne defensive structure, and the visitors were forced to spend long periods defending deep in their 22.
In one passage of play Larne defended their line with total commitment, managing to hold up a Banbridge player over the line on three occasions in quick succession, with heroic last-ditch tackles.
The half concluded with Larne playing out from their own 22 and working the ball left, allowing Luke Butler to exploit an overlap on the wing and race in from the halfway line. Burke’s conversion left the half-time score 12-7 in Larne’s favour.
In a blistering opening period of the second half, a tremendous kick chase by right-winger Craig Newell led to a converted score for outside centre Mark Ramsay, followed from the restart by a trademark pick-up and burst from Burke, who slid in under the posts and converted his own try for a 26-7 lead.
Hesitant defending and poor discipline from Larne was punished by the Banbridge team on two occasions, with two unconverted tries leaving the final score 26- 17.