LURGAN kick started their league campaign with a stirring 46-0 thumping of Belfast High School Former Pupils at Pollock Park last Saturday.
The drama began as early as the first minute when only an unlucky bounce of the ball just short of the try line prevented winger Jack Wilson from going over in the corner. The visitors pack kept the Lurgan forwards honest but the home side kept up the tempo by spending the first 20 minutes of the game in High School’s half of the pitch, although occasionally some poor handling put Lurgan under unnecessary pressure.
A great steal by Aaron Robinson at a High School line out after eight minutes saw quick ball fed out to the back line and captain Scott Gardiner was away under the posts, Steven Nolan converting. Two further penalties converted by Nolan in the 15th and 20th minutes saw Lurgan extend their lead. In the 38th minute Scott Gardiner won the race for the ball and slid over in the corner for his second try. This time Nolan was unsuccessful with the conversion.
The second half started well for the visitors. Some strong open play and well organised moves kept Lurgan in their own end of the pitch for the first 15 minutes of the half. The home side nerve and defence held and eventually Lurgan worked their way back up the pitch.
A strong drive by second row Stuart Robinson got the forwards up to the High School goal line and prop Marty Follis powered over only to be held up in the act of scoring. Shortly afterwards, tensions flared and a brief flurry of punches saw both Lurgan’s no 8 and High School no 5 yellow carded. Lurgan refused to let this get to them and on the 25th minute Stuart Robinson gathered the ball on his own 10 metre line and ran virtually unchallenged to score under the posts, Nolan again converting. In the 34th minute, a defensive error by the visitors saw captain Gardiner again behind the posts for his third try of the day. This was followed four minutes later when he claimed his fourth of the game after a great back line break down the touch line - both again converted by Steven Nolan.
With a minute left on the clock, flanker Richie Shilliday put the final seal on the game when he drove over for Lurgan’s sixth try of the day, again converted by Nolan.
A fine team display by the Lurgan side which hopefully will set them in good stead and mind set for the rest of the league campaign. As for individual performances, Aaron Robinson and Michael Campbell were the standout forwards with their dedicated work ethic around the park while in the backs centre Peter Foster continues to improve with a superb display of defensive tackling. The centre pairing of Foster and four try captain Gardiner is one that works well and should keep the Lurgan defence solid for the rest of the season.