McReynolds produces an inspired display

Larne and Carrick try to gain control of this loose ball at Glynn INLT 38-219-AM
Larne and Carrick try to gain control of this loose ball at Glynn INLT 38-219-AM

Larne hosted rivals Carrickfergus in Saturday’s Hawkins Cup first-leg and it was the home side who were smiling come the final whistle thanks to a 26-3 win.

An early penalty allowed Phil Andrews to step up and give Larne a 3-0 lead.

The visitors responded with a Luke Whittall penalty five minutes later.

There was a welcome return of second row Stephen McReynolds to the Larne pack and he put in an inspired performance both attack and defence.

Patient phase play allowed Larne to get close to the line and McAlister went over in the corner to score.

Larne added another penalty before Carrick lost out-half Whittall to injury. He was replaced by Johnny Mooney. Aaron McKinney took over the kicking duties and landed a penalty deep in injury time at the end of the first half, meaning the home side went in with an 11-6 advantage.

After the interval a break down the left wing and a neat pass by Montgomery saw McReynolds go over in the corner for Larne.

Carrick had the better of territory and possession for the next 15 minutes or so but could not add to their score.

They blew one glorious try-scoring chance when clever inter-passing between Kyle Jordan and Johnny Mooney opened up the Larne defence but the last pass was dropped and the opportunity was lost.

Late in the game Carrick set up a counter-attack but Larne’s Garrett grabbed a loose ball and sprinted 60 metres to go in under the posts. Andrews’ conversion gave final score 23-6.

The return fixture is to be played at Tom Simms Memorial Park at Christmas.

Larne: C. Gibson, R. McAlister, W. Rea, M. Crampsey, S. McReynolds, J. Cole, M. McIlheron, E. Hunter, R. Garrett (c), P. Andrews, S. Montgomery, G. Mills, J. Burns, M. Agnew, J. Hall. Replacements: S. McWhirter, J. Nelson.

Carrick: A. McKinney; N. Hastings, J. Wady, J. Cullen (Capt), K. Jordan; L. Whittall(J. Mooney), D. Moore, A. Gibney, R. Higgins, M. Smilie, C. Rodgers, A. Kincaid, C. Ferris, R. Crymble, M. Haden.

Larne II defeated their Carrick counterparts 59-10 in a Junior 1 clash at Glynn.

Larne skipper John O’Toole said: “This was another exceptional performance from all players 1-18. Larne dominated all areas of the game and gave Carrick little chance to play rugby. It’s always good to win a local derby but to win with such a margin is outstanding. Full credit to all the lads. Well done.”

Larne III travelled to Belfast Harlequins for their first game of the new season and produced a super 29-17 winning performance.

Team captain Stephen Johnston said: “The first game of the season is always a tough one. Obviously there is still a lot of work to do, but to get the season off to a great start from a fantastic performance is the best we can ask for.”