Lurgan 2nd XV made the short trip to their neighbours in Portadown on Saturday, and sadly fell to a 56-14 defeat.
Lurgan travelled with a strong side, consisting of some experienced campaigners mixed with some fantastic young players and future stars.
Unfortunately they came up against a remarkably strong Portadown 4s team in what was a bruising encounter.
Lurgan started the game brightly, but from the first scrum and lineout set pieces it was clear that Portadown possessed a much larger, stronger, better organised pack who dominated these areas of the game. This meant that Lurgan were starved of quality ball throughout the game and a steady platform on which to build attacks.
Portadown scored a series of converted tries to lead 35-0 at half time.
A stern half-time team talk from coach Jason Wallace saw a much improved performance in the second half.
Despite conceding three further converted tries in the second period, Lurgan played with much more intensity and aggression, playing their spells of possession intelligently by moving the ball away from the dominant Portadown pack to score two converted tries of their own.
The first try from Aaron Elliot came after a good back line move saw him receive the ball in space on the right touchline, some 30 metres from the line. He ghosted past the covering winger then drifted past two more defenders on his way under the posts for an excellent score, and some reward for Lurgan’s much improved play.
The second try came from Danny Cairns, who repeated his try-scoring heroics from the previous week against Grosvenor. Receiving the ball from the Lurgan out-half some 25 metres out, he moved to pass, then quickly ducked past a couple of despairing defenders. Close to the line he had his ankle tapped and fell, but had the strength and presence of mind to launch himself upwards and stretch for the line.
Despite the heavy defeat, there were some positives to draw upon for coach Wallace. Despite the unexpected strength of the Portadown 4ths team, Lurgan fought back bravely in the second half and matched the hosts in many departments. Aggression, team spirit and a willingness to play attacking, fast rugby was a definitive plus.
On the other hand, as ‘Digger’ pointed out at the end of the game, issues at the scrum, lineout and in defence can ONLY be resolved by a more committed attendance at training by the entire squad.
This young and talented squad has an abundance of riches in their exciting young players, but without hard work, organisation and commitment, that promise may be less than satisfactorily reflected in the number of league points they secure this year. Only by training together will this squad achieve what they are more than capable of.