I’m pleased to say that, my old school, Larne Grammar, is experiencing something of a rugby revival this season as can be evidenced by their surge up the Ulster Schools Rugby Rankings to 16th place this season.
Their revival continued apace this week with wins against RBAI and Methody teams at their Lower Cairncastle playing fields. Granted the visiting sides were a distance off thier 1st XV’s but successive wins against two of Belfast’s “Big Three” at any level is worth a mention. Coupled with recent wins for Larne RFC U18’s against Ballynahinch and Civil Service it appears that youth rugby is in a good state of affairs in the region.
I’d been impressed by the form of Jack Withers, Micah Stevenson, Euan Glenn and Lee McKee early in the season and the likes of Aaron Gallagher, Liam Slaughter, John Andrews and Jonny Farquhar have come to the fore in recent weeks giving a strong core of players for the team to build on over the remainder of the season.
Larne Grammar 21 RBAI III 0
The Grammar entertained an RBAI selection on a dark and damp Wednesday afternoon with Larne coming out top, scoring three tries in the process.
The first score came Aaron Gallagher midway through the first half, the powerful No 8 battling through the Inst defenders to make the line. Euan Glenn converted from out wide to give the hosts a 7 – 0 lead.
Larne applied the bulk of the pressure throughout the half and their efforts were rewarded when Liam Slaughter jinked through the defence out wide to sprint clear and finish under the posts for a simple conversion for Glenn, the teams turning round with Larne enjoying a 14 – 0 lead.
Inst came into the game more into the game in the second half, as their pack increased their efforts, and the visitors were unlucky not to cross on a couple of occasions. However, as conditions deteriorated and the darkness deepened, it was Jack Withers who shone a light on proceedings with a powerful break from the halfway line to score Larne’s third, Glenn again converting to give the home side a 21 – 0 win.
Larne Grammar 17 Methody III 3
Larne clocked up their second win against one of the “Belfast Giants” on a bright and breezy Saturday morning, the Grammar outscoring their illustrious opponents by three tries to none.
Despite improved conditions this match was a scrappy affair as both sides struggled to come to terms with the referees interpretation of the breakdown, making it all a bit stop start.
The impressive Larne pack did the damage in the first half with back row Lee McKee crossing first, a well timed run splitting the defence before hooker Jason Ward finished off a rumble late in the half. Both tries went unconverted to leave Larne leading 10 – 0 at the break.
Mehtody hit back with a penalty early in the second half and they spent a fair bit of time in Larne territory throughout. However, Larne’s well organised defense kept thier line intact for the second successive game and the killer blow was struck when a sharp break upfield was finished of by ace try scorer Liam Slaughter who’s been finding the line with remarkable frequency the last few weeks! Jonny Farquhar capped a fine personal performance by slotting over the conversion to give Larne a 17 – 3 win.