Match report: Ards 2nds v Larne
Dominant performance by Ards 2nds
Ards 2nds 33 v Larne 7
Ards 2nds welcomed Larne RFC 2nds for a rearranged league fixture at Hamilton Park on Saturday. Ards had narrowly lost the away fixture earlier in the season to a late try and were keen to make their mark.
Larne arrived with their usual large pack and the game kicked off with Ards playing with their backs to Scrabo. The home team enjoyed the majority of possession for the first half and a combination of an unusually misfiring lineout and stout defence from a very large and physical Larne pack denied them continuously.
Eventually Ards' dominance told, an excellent break from prop Benn Carlin took him close to the line only to be downed by a high tackle, Ards Captain David Chivers opted for a scrum, this ball was moved and inside centre Andy Savage drew his opposite number and released his centre partner Onisi Burekama who burst through two tackles and rounded under the posts to open the scoring, Savage converted. Ards 7 v Larne 0
Following further Ards pressure and further stout defence, Larne slowly made their way into the home team's half and from a miscommunication at a defensive ruck, eventually got through for a converted score just before the half time whistle.
Half time: Ards 7 v Larne 7
The physicality of the game was showing already at this early stage, with both sides rolling substitutes and both teams' back rows in particular putting in series of big hits and big carries.
Playing towards Scrabo in the 2nd half, Ards continued to wrestle with the physical battle, with both sides giving and receiving no quarter. It was the home team that held fast with excellent line breaks from Ifaz Khan and Matthew Warnock a feature. It was from one such break that Savage again drew his opposite number and neatly released Burekama on a great line from 50 metres out, Burekama brushed off a number of heavy tackles and took two Larne defenders over the line with him to score his second of the day, Savage again converted. Ards 14 v Larne 7
The match was still firmly in the balance as Larne doggedly held possession in the Ards half and although looking dangerous, got no change from the excellent Ards backline defence.
The toll of the game on the playing resources of both sides was now obvious, both Larne props had to leave the field injured, a testament to the hard work of the Ards front row, but this reduced scrums to uncontested affairs and removed the massive dominance Ards held there.
As the final quarter came, Larne had run out of sub options and Ards' superior conditioning gave them the upper hand. Following a series of penalties and scrums in the Larne 22, a series of pick and drives resulted in second row Gareth McBurney gracefully crossing over the line for Ards' third try, with Savage successful again with the conversion. Ards 21 v Larne 7
The tries were now starting to flow for the home team. Again gaining good possession in the Larne red zone, centre Savage sold an outrageous dummy and ghosted in himself under the posts untouched. His own conversion followed to take the score to 28-7.
From the restart, Ards moved swiftly upfield and the unflinching work rate of the pack allowed prop Paddy Bond to cross the line and round off a five try display from the men in black, Savage couldn't add to his 13 point tally, the final whistle soon followed for a handsome 33-7 win.
The team now look forward to their final match of the season this coming Saturday against City of Derry and the chance to finish their season on a high.
It has to be said that the visitors deserve every praise for the quality and physicality of their game and we wish their injured players a speedy recovery.