LISBURN 15 LARNE 23
AT Blaris last Saturday, a fired up Lisburn team went down narrowly to Larne, another team who were fighting for their lives in a relegation battle at the bottom of the Division Two table. As a result of this reversal, Lisburn now share the bottom spot with Larne.
Lisburn were without the influential Mark Hill but were pleased to have Stuart Barron back in Lisburn colours as well as the recently unavailable David Curry. These two added steel to the Lisburn effort. Mark Crowe kicked Lisburn into the lead after ten minutes but it was not long lived as the Larne outhalf Milliken returned the compliment five minutes later to even the score. On the twenty minute mark, Larne went into the lead with a well taken try on the right wing after the Lisburn defence was caught wanting and a huge overlap let their winger in at the corner. The Larne team were a much changed outfit from the one which Lisburn beat early in the season at Larne and their strong pack and free running backs were proving quite a handful for the Lisburn defence. Ten minutes from the interval the visitors struck again with another simple penalty to open an eight point gap and this was stretched further when just before the whistle, their flanker broke through the first line of defence and then danced his way up-field, unhindered, to the Lisburn line for another Larne score which brought the half time position to 3-16.
A serious discussion took place during the interval and Lisburn came out with a different attitude for the second half. The pack started to dominate the scrums and the lineouts started to improve. They brought the ball to the Larne line on a number of occasions and on one of these, following numerous indiscretions by the visitor’s front row in a series of five metre scrums, Lisburn were awarded a penalty try underneath the posts. Crowe converted to narrow the gap to 10-16.
Unfortunately, this situation did not last long as Larne regrouped and after being awarded a penalty for interfering with play, the Larne scrumhalf Garrett, a very influential player for them, took a tap and go and having broken upfield, was able to offload to his support players who scored under the posts. The conversion made it 10-23 and Lisburn, despite playing some excellent rugby, especially up front, were left again with a mountain to climb. The one area where Lisburn are now falling down is in their first up tackling around the fringe defences and numerous tries have been given away over the last month on the simple basic skill of putting the ball carrier down before the line is broken.
With thirty minutes still to go, Lisburn had everything to play for and they went about it with all guns blazing. The pack were still winning plenty of ball up front and a fierce forward drive resulted in Stuart Evans going in under the Larne defensive wall. 15-23. Lisburn were now totally dominant in the set scrums but yet could just not get the break through which their efforts warranted. Ten minutes from time even this advantage was nullified when one of the Larne props went off injured and the final part of the game went to uncontested scrums and despite all their efforts to get on terms, Lisburn found themselves with the same eight point deficit at the final whistle.
This was a game which could have been won with a tighter defence and Lisburn must now pick themselves up again for next Saturday’s vital home game with Grosvenor who have played just 7 games (W4,D1,L2, PF152, PA72).