Larne and Ballynahinch produced a feast of rugby in the opening round of he Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup at the Glynn Playing Fields on Saturday afternoon.
Ballynahinch 2nds came away with a place in the second round following their 28 – 32 win but Larne will take a lot of encouragement from the game following a spirited display that came up just short.
Larne enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges keeping Hinch pinned in their own half. The trusty boot of out half Philip Andrews knocked over two penalties to give Larne a 6 – 0 lead before Hinch broke out with Irish U20 international Conall Boomer crossing off the back of a driving maul to pul the score back to 6 – 5.
Undeterred, Larne got straight back on the attack with Andrews adding his third penalty before Jonny Cole burst through the last line of defence for Larne’s opening try. Andrews converted and Larne led 16 – 5 to the delight of the home faithful.
Crucially however, Hinch grabbed a second score before the break with impressive winger Aaron Ferris slicing through the midfield to cross unopposed near the posts. The try was converted by fullback Justin Rea to take the score to Larne 16 Ballynahinch 12 at the break.
With a strong breeze now behind them, Hinch piled on the pressure after the break but only came away with a penalty by Rea for their efforts. Larne dug deep for a response and they go it when captain Charlie Cloke crossed for an unconverted try with the score rattling along to 21 -15.
The cut and thrust of this enjoyable game continued but Larne looked to be visibly tiring as the game entered it’s final quarter. A break by Hinch scrum half Rhys O’Donnell was finished off out wide by Joe Bingham to make it a one point game with 10 minutes to go.
O’Donnell snatched the game by the scruff of the neck in the closing minutes scoring a try of the back of a scrum before latching onto a spilled pass to kick and chase the ball through for his second, which was converted.
In a matter of minutes Larne had gone from a one point lead to a nine point deficit, but they refused to go down without a fight, Jordan Burns breaking through the midfield for a converted try to give a final score of Larne 28 Ballynahinch 32.
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