Lisburn 18 UUC 12
Under lights at Lisburn last Friday night the Smiley Monroe Lisburn 1st XV kept their relegation worries at bay for another week by beating a strong UUC outfit in a tense but entertaining game.
This was a match which both teams knew they must try and win and the intensity of the bone crunching tackles reflected this. Lisburn, with Simon Reid and Jamie Dickson promoted at scrumhalf and hooker respectively, and winger Adam Melville on the bench after long term injury, began the game in determined mood and in the opening period their pack were very dominant in the set pieces. However, it was 25 minutes into the game before the first points appeared, in the form of a Mark Crothers penalty. Seven minutes later the Lisburn pack at last made their pressure pay and after turning over a UUC scrum the resulting scrum to Lisburn was won going forward and it allowed No 8 and Captain Matt Edgar to pick up and drive at the students line.
Big second row Peter Ireland was then on hand to dive over for the try. The Crothers conversion gave Lisburn a 10-0 lead which thoroughly reflected the trend of play.
Five minutes into the second half, Crothers increased the gap with another penalty but this reverse seemed to galvanise the student team and they started to play the type of rugby that only students can play. Their pack eventually came to terms with the requirements and started to win ball in the loose and then spread it about through their nimble and straight running back line. Several darts at the Lisburn line saw them recycle ball until eventually a gap was opened in the corner for their winger to score. The conversion failed but UUC were on the move at last.
Alas, straight from the restart a UUC attempted clearance was blocked and second row Andy Barron was up for the touchdown over the line. The conversion unfortunately came back off the post and as it turned out this miss provided the students with what eventually turned out to be a losing bonus point. With just ten minutes gone Lisburn were now in front by 18-5.
UUC now started to play a great brand of open and quick tempo rugby, trying hard to keep the ball away from the heavier Lisburn pack. A tap penalty commenced numerous drives at the Lisburn line and quick recycling eventually led to another fine try which was duly converted. The game was now finely balanced at 18-12 and everything to play for in the final quarter. During this period both teams threw everything into attack and UUC were now getting a bigger share of the possession than previously. However the Lisburn defence were standing firm and there were some ferocious hits from the hard working back row of Evans, O’Brien and Edgar and centre David Gilkinson. Five minutes from time the UUC centre went off injured after a strong tackle and Lisburn managed to hold out to the end when Captain, Matt Edgar had great satisfaction in claiming the ball from another scrum and booting it into touch to end the game.
This was a defining game for the team but they have one more game to play against Enniskillen on Wednesday evening and this must be won in order to preserve their place in Qualifying League 2 for another year.