AT Blaris last Saturday, Lisburn at last threw off the burden of regular defeats to clinch a great last minute win over rivals Grosvenor who at that point were sitting a comfortable fourth in the Qualifying League Two table.
Welcoming back number eight, Mark Hill, who had been unavailable the previous week, and with Stuart Barron occupying the second row spot vacated by his brother Andrew, out with injury, the pack also had changes in personnel in Michael Press, making his debut at hooker for the first team, and David Gilkinson returning from injury.
Lisburn started well driving deep into Grosvenor territory and within five minutes were 3-0 up thanks to a simple penalty from scrumhalf Crowe but were unable to convert three subsequent efforts that left them leading by the narrowest of margins. Grosvenor gradually grew into the game and their nippy backline began to make ground over the gluey surface following the heavy overnight rain. On the half hour mark they went ahead through a well taken try and conversion after the ball had been chipped over the home defence. There was nobody at home and the following up right winger Beattie gathered the ball to speed in under the posts. This was the final score of the half which had seen both teams showing enterprise despite the heavy conditions.
Lisburn started the second half missing another penalty but Crowe put this to rights a few minutes later by converting a similar effort to narrow the gap to 6-7. At this point one of the Lisburn second rows suffered a yellow card and while in the bin the home scrum suffered in a big way. The seven man pack were unable to cope with a Grosvenor push in front of the posts and the resultant Little penalty increased the gap again to 6-10 for the visitors. The final ten minutes of the game was where it was won and lost. Grosvenor went further ahead after a lot of sustained pressure on the Lisburn five meter line. Lisburn won a good scrum but unfortunately the ball shot out uncontrolled through the back row and Grosvenor were up to touch it down before a Lisburn hand could be put to it. Grosvenor were now in the driving seat with a nine point lead and just five minutes to go. Lisburn roared back and centre David Scott was unlucky to be called back for a forward pass just as he was about to score, but the momentum continued and Lisburn pressure was rewarded when number eight Mark Hill reached out from a fierce ruck on the line to score a well taken try under the posts. Crowe converted quickly to narrow the scoreline to 13-15 with just three minutes to go. Lisburn again brought the ball up to the Grosvenor line in the energy sapping conditions and the pack created some great loose ball for the half backs to use. Outhalf, Ally Finlay, secured possession just five meters out and drove for the line but in diving over managed to knock it on.
It looked as if Lisburn’s Christmas goose was cooked but from the resultant scrum Grosvenor transgressed and scrumhalf Mark Crowe stepped up to stroke the ball between the posts for a two point lead.
The referee blew the final whistle to give the homesters the win which they had so earnestly fought for following the draw and narrow defeat which they had suffered in the previous two games against Enniskillen and Larne. These four points lifts them just off the bottom of the table and gives them an opportunity to fight again in the relegation battle now developing at the foot of this very competitive league.
Lisburn now have a two week break after the Conference League game with Ballynahinch Seconds was postponed because of the Hinch’s Junior Cup Final commitments. Their next game will be against University of Ulster at home on January 5 in the first round of the Town’s Cup.