Opening Season & Match Reports
Posted On: Monday, September 5, 2011
Carrickfergus RFC celebrated the formal opening of their magnificently refurbished Clubhouse at Tom Simms Memorial Park on Saturday 3 September with a 17 points to 10 victory by the Maxol-sponsored 1st XV over local rivals Larne in the first League game of the new season. Indeed, they had begun the celebrations early when the Under 19s beat their Larne equivalents by 20 points to 3 on Friday evening.
On Saturday, the day began with the formal opening of the Clubhouse which has been extensively refurbished thanks to an incredibly generous gift from the late Tom Simms after whom the ground is now named. Club President, Gerry Simms, made the keynote speech, Tom Simms’ niece Alison replied on behalf of the Simms family and a plaque in honour of Tom was unveiled by his sister Rita.
While the match between Carrick and Larne may not have produced champagne rugby to match the occasion- it is too early in the season for that – it was a hard fought encounter in keeping with the tradition between the Clubs. After a somewhat shaky first quarter, Carrick began to take control and, despite an excellent Larne try – against the run of play – just before half-time, Carrick retained control in most facets of play for the rest of the match.
Although under pressure early on, the Carrick scrum became more confident as the game wore on and even took two strikes against the head. The home side’s line-out was excellent with Chris Ferris and Curtis Rea particularly prominent. At the break-down, neither side dominated and both had an early season tendency to lose the ball in contact on too many occasions. The main reason for Carrick’s grip on the game after the first quarter was the quality of kicking out of hand by Luke Whittal, Aaron McKinney and, particularly, by Glen Picken. This was backed up by effective kick chasing by McKinney and his back three partners Darryl Crothers and Karl Quinn.
In near perfect rugby conditions, Larne began strongly and, after a couple of misses, took the lead with a penalty after ten minutes. A Luke Whittal penalty in five minutes later levelled the scores and from this point on Carrick began to take control territorially and, increasingly, in terms of possession. They got their reward in the thirtieth minute with an excellent try from Johnny Sheriff. Aaron McKinney ran back a kick and fed left wing, Karl Quinn, who got outside his marker and then passed inside to Sheriff who raced over in the corner. The try was not converted to leave Carrick leading by 8 points to 3. While Carrick continued to play most of the game in their opponents’ half, it was the visitors who scored next on the stroke of half-time. They re-acted quickly when Carrick turned over ball in the Larne 22 and made ground before the home defence could get organised and a well-timed pass to the out-half allowed him a clear run to the posts. The try was converted to leave Larne leading by 10 points to 8 at half-time.
Although the second half was try-less, Carrick tightened their grip on the game, forcing Larne to try to attack from a long way out and winning penalties from the pressure they created. The home side regained the lead after fourteen minutes of the second half with a second Luke Whittal penalty and the out-half increased the margin in Carrick’s favour with two further penalties after twenty and twenty-four minutes of the half. Carrick continued to play the territorial game successfully and were never really under threat for the rest of the game. Indeed, with a little more patience and accuracy, they could have scored at least one more try. This was a good solid start to the League campaign for the young Carrick side although they will certainly face tougher opposition in the weeks ahead.
The Carrick team was:
A. McKinney; D. Crothers, J. Sheriff, J. Wady, K.Quinn; L. Whittal, G. Picken; A. Moore, G. Baxter, D. McKeen(Capt), A. Kincaid. C. Ferris, N. Marsden, S. Morton, C. Rea.
Carrick 2nd VX lost at Portadown by 20 points to 15.
Carrick 4th XV hosted Grosvenor 4s and were narrowly beaten by 20 pts to 21.
Carrick 5th XV had a convincing home win, beating Ophir by 49pts to 7.
On Friday 2 September, the Carrick Under 19s,whose squad of 22 contained players from seven local schools, out-scored Larne Under 19s by three tries to none for a convincing 20 points to 3 victory. Larne opened the scoring with a drop-goal but Carrick replied with a try from short range by Captain Johnny Murray. This was converted by Adam Kendall who also added a penalty before half-time. The rain made the second half a scrappy affair but Carrick added tries by Marc Gordon and Gareth Higgins who ran from inside his own half for the pick of the scores. This, combined with his high work-rate, earned Higgins the “man of the match” award. Coaches Warren McClean and Aaron McKinney were pleased with the commitment shown by the whole squad and look forward to building on this. They are looking to add to the strength of the squad and anyone born in 1993 and 1994 is very welcome to come to training on a Tuesday evening at 6pm.
Next Week’s Fixtures (Saturday 10th September)
1st XV v Letterkenny (away)
2nd XV v Ballyclare 2 (home)
3rd XV v Grosvenor 3 (home)
4th XV v Ballyclare 4 (home)
5th XV v Academy 3 (away)
Under 19 – No match