UUC hang on in a tough encounter with Larne
A close fought encounter saw the students come out 16 – 11 winners. The home team started playing into the strong breeze but this did not stop the lively student pack from putting Larne under pressure form the start, and from a line out the ball was worked into the middle of the field, excellent hands from the mid field put winger Hall away, although tackled, he off loaded to James Henley who had made a great supporting run, however Larne broke down the UUC attack and broke out of defence, a series of great tackles in mid field by Johnny Henry and Stuart Whitcroft on his debut in the cup, led to Pack leader Wilkinson stealing possession, and out half Winder’s delicate chip into the corner forced Larne to concede a line out 5 yards out. A great catch and drive saw several quick pick and goes with Marty O’Neill being the one too score the try. The conversion by Lee Murphy was missed narrowly.
From the restart Larne showed their intent to play open rugby, but got little change out of the hard working University back row of Millar, Doherty and Dunlevey, the students through a good blindside attack saw Callum Rowden and Romain Ber break out, taking play deep into the Larne 22, from a line out again the students built a platform for the forwards to claim another try with scrum half Murphy touching down. The conversion against the difficult wind was missed.
The students seemed to be in full control at this point playing intelligent rugby, however a lot of unforced errors and lack of primary possession very much changed the course of the half and Larne started to dominate proceedings and were well worth a brace of penalties and a try to lead at half time.
The first ten minutes of the second half again saw Larne on the attack, with only the excellent defence protecting the student line, eventually the tide turned ad the students using the elements intelligently with Murphy and Rowden kicking well, to gain good field position they started to force the pace and ask questions of the Larne defence, also the students upped the tackle count with the skipper in particular leaving his mark on the Larne midfield. Eventually penalties were conceded and Murphy converted from 30 yards out to put the students back in front, Although the students pressed, Murphy’s next effort came back off the upright and the students could not get the day light required to make the game safe, as the game closed out a penalty from just inside his own 10 m line by Rowden made the game safe for the students, shortly thereafter the ref blew the final whistle.
Next Saturdays Junior cup match with top of the Qualifying 1 table Ballymoney who last played UUC some 12 years ago when they won qualifying 3 league that day, it will be a one sided affair again if the students make the same errors, however the beauty of cup rugby is, well you never know, perhaps a bit like Ireland the University team are happy being the underdogs.