The Smiley Monroe Lisburn 1st XV hosted league leaders Carrick at Blaris last Saturday and after a gargantuan effort finally lost out by three points after leading their visitors into the last few minutes of this pulsating game.
Carrick started on the attack, spraying the ball from wing to wing in an attempt to find weaknesses in the Lisburn defence but, getting nowhere.
The home pack then gradually started to come into their own and to provide a steady supply of possession to halfbacks Weir and Fave. Fave had switched from his normal fullback position and settled well into his new surroundings.
Two quick breaks by the three quarter line almost led to scores but their persistence eventually paid off and on the 25 minute mark Conor Guiney found himself on the tail end of a sweeping movement and the little darting outside centre went in for a great try.
It was a decisive blow after defending strongly for most of the opening quarter.
Five minutes later Lisburn scored another great try when inside centre David Gilkinson picked up a loose ball at the side of a ruck on the Carrick 22 metre line and took the direct route around the side to go straight through the visitor’s defence and score under the posts.
Fullback Chris Knox converted to give Lisburn a well deserved 12-0 lead. Lisburn were now starting to believe that they could topple the League leaders and this was a sea change in attitude from that experienced in the rather tame loss to Academy in the previous week.
However, Carrick were not where they were because they were a poor team and though shell shocked by the aggression of the Lisburn offence and defence, they soon started to put on pressure of their own. Straight from the re-start they drove up field and were rewarded with a penalty to close the gap to 12-3.
Then Lisburn were a bit unlucky. A five metre scrum on the Lisburn line started to turn and one of the Lisburn players kicked the ball through in an offside position. The referee decided to award a penalty try rather than a penalty or a yellow ccard. Lisburn’s halftime lead was now cut to 12-10.
Within one minute of the start of the second period Lisburn suffered from a comedy of errors when a simple kick ahead by Carrick was fumbled and in the following melee Lisburn were penalised on their own 22 straight in front of the posts.
The gift was taken and Carrick were in the lead for the first time in the match, 12-13. Nevertheless, within minutes Lisburn had recovered their lead after moving the ball out along their backline. Fave drew the defence in and moved the ball through quick hands to winger Scott Hughes who scored in the corner.
It was now 17-13 to Lisburn. Ten minutes from time it looked as if Lisburn must score again but somehow the strong Carrick defence held tight.
A break out followed leading to a number of scrums on the Lisburn line and from one of these the ball was moved left where the Carrick outhalf gained possession to score in the corner. The conversion made it 17-20 and Lisburn did not could not come back.