Randalstown 2's 29 - 10 Ballynahinch 5's
After seeing their winning run in the league come to an end last week, Randalstown 2nd XV went in to this home fixture against Ballynahinch 5th XV hoping to start another one.
The home side started the game much quicker than the visitors and immediately had them pinned back inside their own 22. Some patient build up play with some strong carries from the forwards saw ‘Town creep towards the try line. Eventually No. 8 Mark Strange forced his way under the posts for a try converted by scrum half Michael Smith for an early 7-0 lead.
‘Hinch defended manfully but they just could not get enough sustained possession to relieve the pressure. Second row Sammy Hyndman made the most of a stretched defence as he broke through a tackle 15 metres from the line and did enough to get over for an unconverted try to make it 12-0 to the hosts after 20 minutes.
Anyone though who thought Randalstown were going to run away with it were wrong as the visitors came back strongly. They had the hosts camped on their own line for a full ten minutes, during which hooker Pedro Conceicao was shown a yellow card after his side conceded a string of penalties. ‘Town did not cave in though and second row Stephen Carey won a penalty for an expertly-timed turnover and that brought the half to a close.
Everyone did their bit in what was a heroic defensive effort but the half time message was that they never should have been in that position to start with.
At the beginning of the second 40 it was the men in red and white who had ‘Hinch under the cosh and Smith managed to sneak over from close range for a try. That made it 17-0 and Randalstown could breathe a little easier.
After a bit of a scuffle, the Ballynahinch prop was sent to the sin bin and the men from Neillsbrook made the most of his absence as they secured the bonus point with a lovely team try. After a bout of pressure, Randalstown had a line out ten metres from the visitor’s try line. Flanker Scott Goodrich safely secured the ball and out half Rab Fleck passed back inside to wing Peter McWhirter who ran a fantastic hard line. He was stopped just short but it was Smith there again for his second try.
His double came from a combined distance of around five metres but as he was quick to remind everyone after the game – they all count! This one made it 22-0 but the game was far from over.
The visitors found a way back into the game soon after as their left wing ran in two unconverted tries in quick succession to reduce the arrears to 22-10. The two scores came from lapses in concentration from the home side but unlike the first half, they cost them.
These two scores gave Randalstown a wake-up call and after that they never looked like conceding again. As the game wound down, centre Ryan O’Dea read a pass from the ‘Hinch out half as he intercepted and cantered in under the posts to cap off a strong performance. The extras were added to make the final score 29-10 in favour of Randalstown.
The score-line was a fair reflection of the home side’s dominance and all were pleased with the bonus point victory. It will give the side a boost ahead of next week’s derby fixture against Ballymena 3rd XV at Neillsbrook.
The 1st XV will travel to Gibson Park in Belfast this week to take on Malone 2nd XV in a Conference League fixture while the 3rd XV have another week off.
RANDALSTOWN 2ND XV: Andrew White; Peter McWhirter; Callum McGrenaghan; Ryan O’Dea; Ben Winter; Rab Fleck; Michael Smith; Shea McLaughlin; Pedro Conceicao; Jack Hampton; Sammy Hyndman (Captain); Stephen Carey; Scott Goodrich; Jonny Fullerton; Mark Strange Replacements: Amit Jayaprakash; Michael Savage; John Adair