Young players produce an enthralling game at Pollock Park

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LURGAN UNDER-19’s 24

LURGAN COLLEGE 10

POLLOCK Park was the scene of an enthralling game of rugby on Saturday as Lurgan U19’s hosted Lurgan College in an eagerly anticipated friendly game.

With no fewer than nine of the College squad being by-products of the Lurgan Tiger youth system this was always going to be an intriguing game and after a hard fought game of rugby Lurgan U19’s earned a 24-10 win.

Lurgan College started the brighter of the two sides, with their forwards, led by Dean Wilson, dominating the tight exchanges and their backline looking comfortable in open play, especially Mark McIlwaine who impressed throughout the entire game.

Lurgan, on the other hand, struggled to maintain any pattern of play, continually losing possession in the contact areas and failing to support the ball carrier.

Despite this dominance by the College it was Lurgan who opened the score. After a period of concerted pressure on the College line the ever alert Dylan Gill made the breakthrough scoring an unconverted try to give Lurgan a 5-0 lead. The College replied immediately through a Mark McIlwaine penalty. The game was now being played with great ferocity, as both sides battled to gain the ascendency.

Lurgan physicality was met by the College’s high intensity, expansive style of rugby, and with the game finely poised it was two tries in quick succession that turned the game in Lurgan’s favour.

Matthew Johnston demonstrated superb pace and strength to hand off several College defenders to touch down in the corner, before Daniel Cairns showed great individual skill to collect his own kick through to score. With both conversions successfully being kicked by Johnston, Lurgan held a commanding 19-3 half time lead.

The second half continued with the same intensity as the first, with both sides battling to gain the upper hand.

The College set pieces were excellent, as they dominated Lurgan at both scrum time and in the lineout, and it was no surprise when this forward platform allowed man-of-the-match Mark McIlwaine to scythe through the Lurgan defence to score a great individual score. Straight from the re-start, however, Daniel Cairns was not to be outdone as he collected the ball before kicking through and outpacing the College defence to score his second superb solo effort. With the conversion being missed the score was 24-10 in favour of Lurgan U19’s and that is how it remained to the final whistle as for the remainder of the game both sides continued to apply pressure on each other but were unable to secure any further scores as both defensive lines showed great resilience.

This inaugural game between Lurgan College and Lurgan Rugby Club U19’s was a great advertisement for local youth rugby, played in the best spirit of the game and bodes well for the future of rugby in Lurgan.