Larne 3’s 3 Ballynahinch 6’s 15
Hugh Thoroughbred reports from Glynn
After a frustrating spell of cancellations due to the early onset and continuation of the monsoon season, Ballynahinch 6’s finally got playing again, although after Fridays lashing it seemed barely possible. Well done to Larne for going ahead with the game because the easy option was to cancel the match. They clearly had been nurturing the pitch for bigger and better things than Minor league rugby and knew that a lot of hard work would be undone by fulfilling this fixture. After a rare morning of sunshine and cerulean skies, right on cue there was a rapid and nasty deterioration in the weather with the wind picking up and light rain starting to fall as kick-off beckoned.
Early doors the pitch started to cut up and it was a case of replace your divots please gentleman. Handling was challenging but not that challenging, both teams making a meal of conditions with reckless passing and a reluctance to put hands out on fifty-fifty ball. This inevitably stifled any flow to the game. However what both teams lacked in finesse they more than made up with commitment, showing aggression in contact and tenacity in the tackle. McElwaine in particular made some thumping hits in the rucks, a week in the sun working wonders for Ballynahinch’s resident Silverback.
Larne had plenty of territory with the wind on their backs and made good yardage with some useful kickers in their side but Hinch remained determined and McCavery and Shields in particular counter kicked with good effect. Hinch’s pack once again took the game to their significantly bigger opposition with Trusedale and Turner linking well on Army ball and Darryl Carson running well with ball in hand. Ballynahinch capitalised on a rare visit to their opponents twenty-two with Ray McCavery squeezing in from close range after taking quick ball from a ruck, Shields slotting over the conversion. A Shield’s penalty shortly afterwards saw the Visitors battle their way into half time eleven points up.
The second half was a keenly fought affair but Larne lacked the killer instinct and despite having powerful ball carriers could not penetrate a fantastic Hinch defence, where two or three players combined to drag down repeated charges from their XXL opposition. The Ballynahinch line out didn’t function as smoothly as normal but Trusedale fought hard to salvage some ball and the forwards came into their own in the scrum. The arrival of a rejuvenated and youthful looking Willie McCarroll, fresh from a lengthy spell of Botox and fillers saw four strikes against the head in the second half.
Even when the Larne players got a shove on Willie Carlisle completely controlled the ball at eight, frequently picking up and blattering his way into contact, turning precarious situations into go forward ball. Hinch extended their lead early in the half with a McElwaine lunge from close in and further tries looked on after outstanding breaks from Turner and Magowan but credit to Larne who were up very quickly in numbers, snaffling out these half chances. Larne did slot over a well taken penalty kick but apart from two length of pitch counter charges didn’t look like crossing the chalk.
As the damp and cold started to take hold and tempers frayed the game reached its allotted time and Spiers men deservedly finished victorious, fifteen points to three. Spiers can be justly proud of taking his side into February with five months of the season behind him and just one defeat to boot. Success has hinged on a pack who have punched above their weight all season and from a never say die attitude from a close knit squad who have gelled on and off the pitch. Next up PSNI 2nds and the McCambley last sixteen. It was good to see Archie Trusedale Farquharson on the touch line once again, who, and this will be of no surprise to those who spent their afternoon at Glynn, adjudged William to be his Man of the Match, William Carlisle that is.
Final Score: Larne 3s 3 – Ballynahinch 6s 15
Team: Magowan M, Thurgate H, Wilson B, Shields M, Bleakley G, McCavery R, Spiers R, Cairnduff D, Carson D (sub McCarroll W), McElwaine A, Neill R (sub Wilson A), Trusedale W, Evans M, Turner J, Carlisle W