Lisburn lose out in vital relegation battle with bottom of table Holywood

Action from Saturday's game between Lisburn and Carrick at Lisburn Rugby Club. US1447-525cd  Picture: Cliff Donaldson
Action from Saturday's game between Lisburn and Carrick at Lisburn Rugby Club. US1447-525cd Picture: Cliff Donaldson

At a cold and windswept Holywood last Saturday, the Smiley Monroe Lisburn 1st XV lost out in a vital relegation battle with bottom of the table Holywood.

Following their excellent win over Grosvenor in their last game, perhaps Lisburn were a bit overly confident for this fixture but they met a fired up home team who on the balance of play probably deserved their victory.

Lisburn attacked from the start and for the first ten minutes were camped inside the Holywood half of the pitch with their pack dictating matters.

However, they could not get a break-through score to start the scoreboard ticking.

Outhalf Mark Crothers was standing in for the injured Ross Edgar but a missed penalty attempt was the nearest they came to an opening score.

After the early exchanges it appeared that in the wintery conditions it was going to be a contest between the Lisburn forwards and the home backs and so it turned out.

After twenty minutes, following a quick breakout, Holywood opened the scoring with some great running play and no sooner had the game re-started after that 5-0 setback, than they found themselves 10-0 in front when a simple kick ahead found nobody at home in the Lisburn defence and Holywood were in for another try.

The Holywood inside backs were moving the ball out to their dangerous backline at every opportunity, spurning penalty attempts at goal to go for quick tap ball and this was paying dividends in the cold but dry conditions.

On 38 minutes their centre kicked a beautiful drop goal to increase the lead to 13-0.

It was only in the set pieces that Lisburn were dominant, pushing the home team off the ball at almost every scrum.

Just before the half time whistle Lisburn came right back into the game when they pushed their opposition over ten metres off the ball around the 22 metre line and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try, deeming that Hollywood had prevented an almost certain score by illegal play.

The conversion brought the interval score to 13-7.

Lisburn now had to play against a strong wind which at the start of the game was blowing across the pitch but which now was blowing diagonally against them.

The Lisburn pack were still proving a handful where the front row of Mark Gilkinson, Pete Graham and Phil Jefferson were scrummaging supreme.

However, the Holywood backline were a major threat and were getting enough ball to keep Lisburn pinned back in their own territory.

The match was looking to be petering out as it approached the last ten minutes as Lisburn were frantically chasing the game looking for a seven pointer to win, and then disaster struck.

Ten metres from their own line they were attempting to run the ball out to the wing for a break up field when an interception of a short but hurried pass gave Holywood the clinching score and an 18-7 lead.

Lisburn came right back immediately with an excellent score by hooker Pete Graham near the posts.

A quickly taken drop goal conversion did not, however, give Lisburn enough further time to seek a match winning try and Holywood ran out worthy winners for the first time this season.

Lisburn had only the consolation of a losing bonus point.

This loss makes it much harder for Lisburn to escape from the relegation zone but they have plenty of matches still to come and must put this setback behind them and seek at least a couple of further wins.

Tomorrow (Saturday) they travel to play Carrick in what will be another tight game.