Lisburn RFC’s first team came a cropper in the Qualifying League at Blaris last Saturday when they went down comprehensively 41-10 to a high flying Omagh outfit who currently sit top.
The victors were warming up for their Junior Cup final this week against Instonians but the scoreline does not tell the whole story.
The Smiley Monroe sponsored Lisburn were fired up for this game and took the play to Omagh right from the start. They were dominant in the set scrums, where Mark Gilkinson, Pete Graham and Matt Brown were giving their opposition a hard time and new recruit Peter Ireland in the second row was getting the scrums moving forward.
Lisburn drove hard into the rucks and put Omagh under severe pressure. On 20 minutes, a great run by wing David Harkness saw the visitor’s line breached and the conversion by Chris Knox gave Lisburn a 7-0 lead.
Straight from the re-start, Omagh came right back and a speculative Garryowen into the Lisburn 22 was allowed to bounce and inevitably it bounced into the hands of the onrushing backs and, very much against the run of play, Omagh were gifted a 7-7 scoreline.
At this stage a jinx hit Lisburn. First of all, full-back Robin Brown was sidelined with a knee ligament injury followed almost immediately by centre David Gilkinson with a recurrence of a similar problem and suddenly Lisburn were without two of their best strike weapons.
They were replaced by the Lisburn bench of Jonny Gilkinson and Mark Healy, both flankers, and the backline was drastically rearranged with Noel Hooke moving to full-back and Stewart Evans to the wing.
Nevertheless, Lisburn continued to press and on 35 minutes were rewarded with another Knox penalty to put them into a 10-7 lead.
Then, however, the turning point of the game arrived when hooker Peter Graham was carried off with a lower back injury and Lisburn were down to 14 players for the rest of the game.
Omagh gained a new energy and immediately started to run the ball. Just on the interval whistle, they scored a fine try after the lopsided home backline was split when full-back Bennett ran a great line to score.
The conversion failed but Omagh went into a 10-12 lead despite the heroics of the Lisburn team throughout that first half.
The second period saw Omagh capitalise on Lisburn’s injury problems and it was their scrumhalf McCain who orchestrated much of the grief.
In the fifth and 20th minutes, he broke away from set scrums to shred the Lisburn defence and jink over for two excellent tries and the seven man home pack could not cope with the extra man.
In the final ten minutes, Omagh pressed home their advantage with two more scores from their free running backline and Lisburn were well and truly beaten 10-41.
If Lisburn had not been so unlucky with injuries, who knows what would have happened but they must now regroup before next Saturday’s big game with Enniskillen, again at home.
The second XV, buoyed by their win last week over Ballymena Threes, host Enniskillen Twos in what should be a great double header at Blaris, coinciding with the Club’s annual Christmas Lunch.
All support for the teams and the lunch will be much appreciated by all at the club.