Carrick Rugb Club’s 1st XV avenged their Junior Cup defeat by Larne by winning the Qualifying Two encounter 22-18.
Saturday’s game followed a remarkably similar pattern to the Junior Cup game, with Carrick overturning a half-time deficit to get into the lead, but this time they held on as Larne dominated territory and possession in the closing stages.
The Carrick scrum became more dominant as the game progressed and they definitely had the better of the line-out battle, taking at least four on Larne’s throw. For the second week in a row, Ryan McGonigle was Carrick’s stand-out player, making a lot of yards as a ball carrier and putting in some thumping tackles.
The returning Andy Kinkaid was influential in scrum, line-out - he made a couple of the steals on the Larne throw - and the loose. Centre Reece Hamilton had an excellent game both in attack and defence and his midfield partner Ryan Bailey ran some good lines and accounted for two of the Carrick tries.
Larne deservedly took the lead after five minutes when they ran back a poor Carrick clearance kick, re-cycled and moved left for Ryan Garrett to go over in the corner for an unconverted try.
At the end of the first quarter, and somewhat against the run of play, the home side drew level when McGonigle got the touch-down after a line-out catch-and-drive. The try was not converted.
The visitors hit back almost immediately when Johnny Hall was allowed to run 50 metres down the left wing to score in the corner. This try was converted from a difficult angle by Phil Andrews to give Larne a 12-5 lead. Although Carrick were by now beginning to settle into their rhythm, Larne continued to have the better of the territorial battle and Andrews added two more penalties before the break to go in 18-5 up at the break.
Carrick got their second try 10 minutes into the half following a line-out catch-and-drive, but this time the ball was moved wide and Ryan Bailey forced his way over. Luke Whittal kicked the conversion to reduce the deficit and then put over a penalty from 45 metres out to leave Larne leading by just three points.
Larne respondend with an Andrews penalty but the home side hit back when Bailey ran an excellent line to go over at the posts. Whittal converted to make it 22-18.