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Weekend round-up: 4th XV fight back for memorable victory while 1sts only draw

Posted On: Sunday, October 23, 2011

Date 22nd October 2011

Carrickfergus 4th XV 28-22 Ards 4th XV
It was not the world cup final but for the squad of players who represented Carrick 4’s yesterday it might as well have been. Playing the famed “Black Knights” from Ards, serial winners of the minor leagues and McCambley Cup, the unheralded journeymen, club stalwarts, rookies and occasional players turned in as heroic, defiant, resilient and triumphant a performance as can have been seen from a Carrick side in many years.
Playing on the back pitch under a steel grey sky, with driving rain and a gale blowing straight down the pitch the conditions were perfect for an older, wiser, heavier Ards pack content to maul the life out of the lightweight Carrick side. Ards, with an ex-Ulster scrum half and senior league players throughout were overwhelming favourites.

And that is how it started. Despite an early Gareth Clarke try Ards responded with 3 quick scores of their own, Cyril Stocker an ex-Carrick player dancing repeatedly under the posts without a finger laid on him. Carrick had fallen into the trap of standing off their big name opponents, letting them play the rugby and were staring down the barrel of a big defeat.

After the 3rd try Captain Smith and Gareth Clarke called their palyers into a huddle and set about rallying their team. Harsh, honest and then encouraging words were spoken and as the 4th XV trotted back for the restart the belief was back in their eyes. Right from the ensuing re-start the pack tore into Ards, turned the ball over and after a series of pick and drives Craig “Big Bree” Brazier dived over from close quarters right by the posts. 17-14. The self confidence was coursing through the veins of the 4’s.

Ards, showing their quality, regained possession and kicked for the corners and following a series of runners and quick ball rucks scored again. The try unconverted. Instead of the Carrick heads going down, they regrouped under the posts knowing that if they raised their game they could match Ards in every department. Half time Ards 22-14 Carrick.

The half time team talk was full of self belief, hunger, enthusiasm and motivation. Carrick knew that playing downhill but into the wind the first score of the second half was crucial. Early in to the second half the game’s one moment of brilliance. David Moore aka Peanut playing at scrum half lifted the ball at the base of a ruck, dummied and sprinted from inside his own half side-stepping the Ards back line and scoring a wonderful try from 60 yards. Up stepped Alan Smith and he nailed the difficult conversion into the wind. 22-21 to Ards.

The game had now sharply increased in intensity and physicality. Not a tackle was being missed, Neil McGookin and Adam Moore to the fore, rucks hit and cleaned out and from another turnover Carrick found themselves with an attacking line out 30 yards from the Ards line. A great throw and quality ball “off the top” by Gareth Barnard saw quick backline ball through the hands of Clarke, Crothers and Gillanders ran through to score by the posts. A quality try from first phase possession. Again Smith slotted the kick. Carrick now led 28-22 with 25 minutes to go and the rain heavier, the wind stronger and Ards ready for a battle. Carrick had taken the lead and were not intending to relinquish it.

Ards set about scoring through their forwards and attacked in the Carrick ’22 over and over again battering into the Carrick tacklers who committed themselves to every challenge. Ards had attacking scrum after attacking scrum and constantly tried to make yards down the blind side then spin the ball wide. But now, unlike the first half the Carrick players weren’t standing off in defence but racing up and into the Ards backline forcing errors and knock-ons. Carricks task was further complicated by having to kick for touch into the gale and only able to make a few yards up the touchline. Their 22 was the only place this game was now going to be played. Carricks subs were deployed and among others Arthur Tyther raced on to prop against the mighty Ards front row. Carrick’s discipline was immense as in this period they conceded very few penalties and kept everyone on the pitch.

With time ticking away Ards inched closer to the line and one attack was repelled literally inches from the whitewash. Finally the Carrick defensive pressure told and Ards conceded a penalty and for once in their rugby careers the 4th XV played smart rugby. A kick for touch, possession secured, then retained and slowly they made their way, yard by yard down the pitch running down the clock. The referee called “final play”. A Carrick line out again off the top from Barnard and Moore kicked the ball far off the field. A famous victory and the best win by the 4th XV in years to be enjoyed and cherished by all those who played and long remembered by those privileged enough to watch.

The real pleasure was not in the scoreline but the courage, heart and desire shown by all those who wore the black and red of Carrickfergus 4th XV yesterday at the Tom Simms Memorial Park. They were a credit to themselves and to the club.

Carrick 1st XV 14 -14 Grosvenor 1st XV
On Saturday, Carrickfergus kicked off against Belfast side Grosvenor in very grey, overcast and breezy conditions. Carrick, playing with the benefit breeze in the first half, put pressure on the visitors for most of the first quarter but seemed unable to turn this into points on the scoreboard. Frequent handling errors by the home team allowed Grosvenor to clear their lines. However, after 19 minutes the pressure paid off as Karl Quinn ran from the half way line eventually passing to Jason Wady who went over for a try. However Carrick immediately knocked on from the kick off giving Grosvenor the put in at a mid field scrum from which they secured possession and ran in an easy try to level the score up at 5 points each.

Carrick forwards continued to apply pressure but again paid the price for handling errors, more than once knocking on as there were on the opposition goal line. Just before the half hour Grosvenor defenders went off their feet at the breakdown and gave away a penalty which Carrick’s Johnny Sheriff converted to take the score to 8-5. Five minutes later, more Grosvenor indiscipline allowed Carrick to extend their lead to 11-5 with a further penalty but again they almost immediately gave away this advantage allowing Grosvenor to pull back to 11-8 just before half time.

The second half began on blustery conditions and a sensible Carrick pack took the sensible approach of sticking the ball up their jersey and running. Every time their kicked possession away to Grosvenor, the Belfast team used the conditions and kept Carrick pinned well back within their own half. Within 5 minutes Grosvenor managed to level up the score at 11-11 with an easy penalty in front of the posts.

The Grosvenor team seemed to be persistently off-side at the breakdown but did not get penalised and managed to stay firmly camped in the Carrick 22m for almost 20 minutes. When Carrick did finally force their way into the opposition half, Grosvenor illegally killed the ball with hands in at a ruck. The referee finally lost patience and yellow carded the guilty Grosvenor player. Again Johnny Sheriff converted the penalty to give Carrick a 14 to 11 lead .

The heavens opened and the rest of the game was played in heavy rain which did little to improve the handling. On 75 minutes the referee penalised Carrick harshly for what he regarded as a high tackle and Grosvenor levelled the score at 14-14.

The Carrick team had an opportunity to win the game in the last few minutes, but unfortunately Andy Kinkaid didn’t pass out the line for what would have been an easy try. Carrick spectators became more and more disgruntled at what they saw as a series of poor refereeing decisions, but when the full time whistle blew the game remained tied at 14 points apiece. The Carrick team will feel aggrieved that they didn’t take all the points in what was a very winnable game but they will need to sharpen up considerably if they are to meet the challenges of the bigger teams in coming weeks.

The Carrick team was – E McBrien, G Baxter, D McKeen, A Kinkaid, C Ferris, M Patterson, R Crymble, C Rea, G Picken, A McKinney, K Quinn, J Wady, A McIlroy, D Kirkpatrick, J Sheriff.

Other results
Mid week, Carrick 2nd XV dominated Banbridge, winning 50-3.
On Saturday, the 3rd XV had an excellent away win, beating Cooke 47 to 13.

Next week’s fixtures
Friday 28th October
1st XV vs Dungannon 2s home(7.30)

Saturday 29th October
2nd XV vs Ballynahinch III, home
3rd XV vs Dungannon IV, away
4th XV vs Larne III, away
5th XV vs Malone IV, home
Under 19s vs Ballyclare, home

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