Larne Rugby Club’s 2nd XV got the better of Ballynahinch 4th XV in a top-of-the-table clash at Glynn on Saturday with a valiant 24-6 win for the home side.
Quite a crowd had turned out for this enthralling match between Junior Two’s top placed teams, cheering on the home side to victory.
With ‘Hinch kicking off, Larne applied pressure straight away when a well-worked short line-out was passed to hooker Stu Smyth, and he sped down the line only to be be tackled into touch on the ‘Hinch try line.
Knowing they were up against a physical team, ‘Hinch rallied back in the scrums in a bid to gain vital possession.
Larne had a few spoiled chances in the backline with balls not going to hand, but the first chance at points went to Hinch when they opted to go for the posts from a penalty only to steer it wide.
The referee had a chat with both front rows, and got things back under way with the home side feeding the ball back to Bobby Garrett who created a magical pass to out-half McBride who spread the play wide to Agnew. He carved his way through the defence and beat his opposite number in style to score. He also duly converted to give Larne a 7-0 lead.
Spurred on by the early reverse, the ‘Hinch backline blasted back at Larne with slick hands and missed tackles which resulted in a penalty for the visitors to claw back three points.
Hinch doubled their lead through a drop-goal by the out-half, but swift hands of Larne’s backline gave Jordan Burns the opportunity to ignite into life when he broke through the defence.
Although Larne fumbled the next play, a charged down kick from Garrett was recovered and scored by Aaron McBride and converted by Agnew.
Another missed penalty from the ‘Hinch out-half kept the gap at six, and Larne pushing for a third try, were denied through a forward pass to leave the half-time score at 14-6.
Early in the second session ‘Hinch were almost punished when Smyth’s darting run was thwarted at the try line.
Strong defensive tackling from Peter Reid and Craig Gibson helped stifle Ballynahinch’s momentum as they tried to maul up the pitch, but Larne, kicking tactically throughout, were helped by wingers Kelso and Saunderson who chased well to gain penalties at the breakdown. Agnew slotted over one out of the three chances.
Hinch continued to fight back with line breaks, but a turnover in Larne’s 22 was kicked up field. McBride delayed his pass out to Jordan Burns to score under the posts and wrap up the game in style. The conversion by Agnew ended gave Larne a resounding 24-6 victory.
Managers Bob Cameron and Stephen Johnston were extremely proud of all 15 players who fought from start to finish and look forward to the rest of the season’s campaign.
Larne: C. Gibson, S. Smyth, A. Ferguson, P. Reid, G. Liddle, L. Cameron, S. McAlister, S. Johnston, B. Garrett, A. McBride, H. Saunderson, G. Knox, J. Burns, N. Kelso, M. Agnew.