GROSVENOR 23 LISBURN 26
AT Belmont last Saturday, Lisburn gained a well deserved, if narrow, win over Grosvenor to complete the double in Qualifying League Two.
Grosvenor were sitting fourth in the table and Lisburn in a pool of teams fighting it out at the bottom but by virtue of this win, Lisburn now lift themselves to sixth place in advance of their game next Saturday against third placed Enniskillen at the latter’s venue.
Grosvenor play a fast moving form of rugby, and with width, and so it proved for the first ten minutes, with Lisburn giving away just a penalty for going into a ruck from the side. The visitors then conceded a try after the Grosvenor scrumhalf weaved his way in from the 22 metre line and the conversion made it 10-0. However, Lisburn were settling into the pace of the game and after missing out on a golden opportunity to score due to a dropped pass, the Grosvenor line was finally breached when full back Scott Hughes collected an attempted clearance kick and charged through to offload to winger Adam Melville who made the break and after a further interpass with Hughes, Melville ghosted in for a fine try with prop Graham Currie on hand outside him if required. Scrumhalf Mark Crowe converted to make it 10-7.
The two kickers then swapped penalties to bring the score to 13-10 but Grosvenor were the next to score after Lisburn failed to claim a loose ball and they drove in under the posts to make it 20-10. With five minutes to go to the interval, and the game being played at breakneck speed, Lisburn got back into contention when they deservedly scored. An excellent drive by the backs out wide saw the move break down with some fierce Grosvenor tackling but the ball came backwards and centre Richard Kindred, how good to see him back after injury, was on hand to gain possession and score in the corner. While the difficult conversion failed, Lisburn had narrowed the gap to 20-15.
Lisburn gathered themselves during the interval with some smart words from Captain, Phil Jefferson and Coaches Irwin and Crowe and they came out determined for the second half. They laid siege to the home line and were rarely out of the Grosvenor half of the field for most of the second period. On eight minutes they scored a superb try when second row Alan Hughes gathered a loose clearance kick and charged twenty metres up to the Grosvenor line where fast hands by the half backs Crowe, Finlay and inside centre Gibb saw Kindred unleashed and he offloaded to winger Adam Melville who dashed in for his second try. While the difficult conversion failed, Lisburn were on terms at twenty points each and well worthy of it. Five minutes later the continuing Lisburn pressure saw Grosvenor concede a penalty and the Crowe conversion saw the visitors in front 20-23 for the first time in the game.
Lisburn were now playing a great brand of rugby with David Curry and Alan Hughes winning all their own ball in the lineout and the pack were solid in the scrums where props Currie and Dickson were supporting their Captain and hooker Phil Jefferson in a tight set piece- but the back row of Mark Hill and flankers Stuart Evans and Chris Cummings were also playing a vital role in controlling the dangerous Grosvenor back row and backline. Chris Cummings was making his seasonal debut at this level and was a revelation in following the ball wherever it went and carrying expertly in the loose as well.
With ten minutes to go Grosvenor broke out into the Lisburn half of the field for what was a rare visit and benefited from what was a very disputed penalty to again draw level at 23-23 but with just five minutes to go, and Lisburn back in the home 22, Crowe again converted a simple penalty chance to take the lead which they held for the final exchanges and ran out 23-26 winners. This was an excellent game of rugby played in surprisingly good conditions, bearing in mind the snowbound conditions which featured on many other grounds, and on the balance of play in the second half Lisburn were deserving winners. Next week they will try and maintain the momentum when they travel to Enniskillen for another tough encounter.