RUGBY REVIEW: Big win for Larne as they edge past Randalstown

Ryan Garrett charging for Larne in the Gordon West Cup final at Ravenhill. INLT 17-373-PR
Ryan Garrett charging for Larne in the Gordon West Cup final at Ravenhill. INLT 17-373-PR

After two defeats on the spin, Lane bagged a precious 18-17 win over Randalstown at Glynn. In extremely wet and windy conditions, Larne knew they would be in for a hard day’s graft against a well-drilled opposition pack coached by ex-Ulster and Ireland international Gary Longwell.

Battling the elements, a penalty soon ensued and Larne’s Phil Andrews comfortably nudged over to put the hosts into an early lead.

A perfect lineout from Burford set up a rolling maul but the Randalstown pack held them up five metres short. That was until McBride hit a huge line, bouncing his way through three attempted tacklers to land an unconverted try.

As the conditions started to deteriorate, errors in the game started to creep in for both sides and the packs had to work hard.

Larne increased their advantage when skipper Ryan Garrett intercepted a Randalstown attack to race home from the half way line for a seven-pointer which was followed up with a quick penalty to put Larne into an 18-0 lead.

The hosts were in a favourable position approaching half time, however, an error in their own 22 allowed the visitors to pounce on the ball and dot down to bring the score line back to 18-7 going into the break.

Playing into the wind, Larne knew they would have an almighty task ahead to hang on for what could be a crucial victory in the league.

After a warning from the referee, Hunter was the unfortunate victim of the game’s first yellow card which gave the opponents an edge in the scrum and they capitalised to bring the scoreline back to 18-12.

The visitors again took advantage of their numerical superiority when they worked a good field position to cross over for a well-worked try. Fortunately for Larne, the conversion was missed.

With Hunter back in the fray and 15 minutes still to play, Larne continued to hold firm in defence and Randalstown passed on the opportunity with a number of penalties from close range.

In the final play of the game, the referee adjudged the home side to have made a high tackle giving the visitors one last chance to steal victory from the jaws of defeat from long range. Much to relief of the home players and the spectators, the kick fell a long way short and the game ended 18-17.

This week sees the return of the Conference League and Larne travel over Shane’s Hill to Ballymena on Thursday evening (19:45 kick-off).