It was back-to-back wins for Larne Rugby Club on Saturday with the 23-15 victory over fellow Qualifying 2 strugglers Lisburn.
Both teams were highly-motivated for the crunch match and it showed in the exchanges.
Lisburn were the first to register points when their scrum-half slotted over a penalty for a 3-0 lead after an infringemet.
Laurence Kelly’s men responded with a penalty of their own from the boot of Milliken who brought the scores level.
Gary Mills and Montgomery began to make yards through the centre, while McKinty and Eddie Hunter were rumbling upfield. After a series of rucks and mauls, the ball was passed out wide to Jonny Hall who raced down the wing for an unconverted score.
Lisburn began to dominate in the scrum, but Larne held firm. A line-out just inside the Lisbrun half, saw Garrett fire a pass out wide to James McCluggage at pace and he broke through the Lisburn defence. As he tried to round the Lisburn full-back, he was brought down just before the line. Quick recycled ball from the centres and back row allowed Garrett to dive over for a score. The conversion was missed, but Larne were in the driving seat, leading 13-3 at the break.
In the second session the bigger Lisburn pack used their weight to full effect at mauls and in the scrum. But it was Larne who were next on the score board when Milliken slotted over another penalty.
Credit were credit is due, Lisburn continued to attack. They camped themselves in Larne’s 22 a for a spell and after a series of collapsed scrums, the referee awarded them a penalty-try. The conversion was slotted over.
From the re-satrt, Larne’s persistence led to Lisburn mistakes. Mills was a constant threat and on two occasions was unlucky not to score.
Brian Blair, who had an impressive game, made runs on the wing as gaps appeared in the home defence. Another penalty saw Garrett tap and go, and he drew in the full-back to pass to Milliken who raced in under the posts before duly slotted over the conversion.
With 15 minutes remaining, Larne went in search of a fourth try which would land them a bonus-point. But Lisburn caught them on the counter and their openside flanker burst over for an unconverted score.
Both teams slogged it out in the last 10 minutes, but Larne held for a morale-boosting 23-15 win. The team go in to this weekend’s crucial match against Randalstown in high spirits.
Larne: C Rea, C Gibson, D Thomson, M Crampsey, J McKinty, E Hunter, G Wright, J McCluggage (c), R Garrett, J Milliken, B Blair, G Mills, S Montgomery, J Hall, S Marshall
Fixtures: Larne v Randalstown; Malone III v Larne II; Randalstown III v Larne III