At their Blaris headquarters last Saturday, the new look Smiley Monroe sponsored Lisburn 1st XV got their season under way in the Qualifying League.
After six weeks of hard work and preparation Lisburn, with eight new names in the starting line up, started well in what turned out to be a hard fought contest.
Randalstown, coached once again by Irish and Ulster great, Gary Longwell, soaked up the early pressure created by the driving Lisburn pack and some excellent running from outside centre Andrew Gilmore who opened the scoring with a well taken penalty on nine minutes.
However, the lead did not last long as the Randalstown team at last came to terms with the feverish early pace of the game and within five minutes had taken the lead following a breakout into the Lisburn half.
Their scrumhalf broke wide near the home line and a big gap opened up for the inrushing fullback to score near the posts. The simple conversion made it 3-7 and Lisburn were left wondering about their cover defence.
Nevertheless, Lisburn came right back and another penalty from Gilmore narrowed the gap to 6-7 with just twenty minutes gone.
The second quarter was a real hammer and tongs affair with the ever improving Randalstown pack getting good possession for their dangerous backline. Just before half time the visitors scored again through their speedy midfield to open up a 6-14 scoreline and Lisburn were left with questions to answer about their defensive net.
The second period was very evenly matched and Lisburn were a bit unlucky on a number of occasions.
However, Randalstown held out and with just five minutes remaining, clinched the game with a penalty to make the final score 6-17.
Lisburn were left to rue two defensive glitches which cost them fourteen points but on the premise that a team learns more from its defeats than its wins, maybe its not the worst defeat in the world and hopefully they will learn from this game and come back stronger.
In the meantime, a big welcome to all the new faces on the team – Tom Fraser, Andrew Weir, Jonny Davies, Jake Bebbington, Peter Weir, Andrew Gilmore, Conor Guiney and Jordan Heatley. They all played with commitment and show that the future is bright for this squad of players.
The next five games consist of four Conference League games and a Junior Cup match against the same Randalstown team. The Qualifying League will then re-commence on 10th October.
Next Saturday they travel to play Ballymena Seconds in the Conference while the Thirds start their campaign at home against Ballymoney Thirds.