Larne are just one step away from the Gordon West Cup final at Ravenhill after Saturday’s 59-7 victory over PSNI.
Having finished the first-half 14-0 to the good after tries from the impressive Gareth Wright and Jordan Burns, they upped the tempo in the second session, putting the game well beyond the visitors. PSNI did land a consolation try midway through the second-half.
“It was a rusty first-half, which was expected after three weeks with no rugby. However, we were pleased at how the set-pieces went. We dominated the line-outs and scrums for the entire game,” said captain, James McCluggage.
“Wright and Hunter were impressive throughout covering a vast amount of ground in both attack and defence.
“It was a much-needed run-out before what is the team’s most important game of the season this week against Holywood at the Glynn. The lads ask for as much support as possible to come out and cheer them on.”
PSNI dominated the opening 10 minutes and were unfortunate not to be 3-0 in front when they missed a kick in front of the posts.
That scare knocked Larne into gear, but a combination of simple errors and excellent PSNI defending kept them out until the immense pressure finally told as Wright, took an offload from Andrews to drive over the line. Andrews converted.
Larne continued to attack and as Houston Saunderson ran deep in to the PSNI half the ball was spread wide which saw Garrett find Burns who ran over for a converted score.
Garrett was next on the scoresheet when he broke through the PSNI defence to go in for try number three.
Larne then introduced their two replacements, Smyth and Hall. Smyth made an instant impression, hitting a beautiful line off Ricky McIlheron to break through for a try which Andrews duly converted.
As the floodgates opened, Mark McIlheron and Man of the Match Hunter barged over for two successive tries.
The next two scores were well taken by Burns who completed his hat-trick. The first came from a well-weighted chip through by Andrews and Burns outpaced the PSNI fullback to touch down. His next was the pick of the scores as Garrett hit a cross-field kick which winger Kelso latched on to. As he was hauled down just before the line, he off-loaded to the hat-trick hero.
With only a few minutes remaining, the tired legs were evident on both sides with the soft ground sapping the players’ energy.
Good blitz defence by Larne saw Gibson intercept a PSNI pass to run in from close range. As Andrews slotted over the conversion, the referee blew the final whistle.
The game was well supported with a large turnout to the pre-match function which was kindly sponsored by Ross Thompson and Steven Knox.
Larne: C Gibson, G Wright, C Rea, M Crampsey, J McCluggage (Capt), R McAlister, M McIlheron, E Hunter, R McIlheron, P Andrews, N Kelso, S Montgomery, J Burns, H Saunderson, R Garrett. Subs: S Smyth and J Hall