Scenes of unbridled joy swept over Lisburn RFC pitches as the Lisburn and Grosvenor RFC Academy teams welcomed the return of competitive rugby. A very loud and appreciative crowd of supporters encouraged their respective teams. Grosvenor had some 30 odd players to compete in 4 x 20 minute periods and Coaches Ford and Lowry had selected 4 different teams to contest each period. The game was played on a fine surface, and Grosvenor were keen to play with the ball in hand. Early pressure saw prop James McMaster drive over for the opening try with the ubiquitous Adam Skelton adding the extras, 7-0. Lisburn spent most of the opening period in defence but a penalty saw them threaten the Grosvenor line. Good cohesive defence resulted in a turnover and Jack Kennedy running in from some 40 metres to score in the corner. Skelton was unable to add the extras this time. 12-0. End of a frenetic 1st quarter.
The second quarter saw more enterprising Grosvenor play and this resulted in a try for Jack Breen, converted by Skelton, 19-0. Lisburn came back into the game and after a series of penalties, they scored an unconverted try from a short penalty 19-5. Their joy was short-lived as increased pressure from the visitors resulted in a try for Stephen Hedley. The resultant conversion struck the upright but Grosvenor led 24-5. A tiring Lisburn were unable to defend the fast running of the Grosvenor backs and Skelton scored and converted his own try to close the second period at 31-5.
The 3rd period was a much tighter affair with Lisburn showing some strong scrummaging and a good lineout. Also, Grosvenor shipped too many penalties. Jack Kennedy scored his second try and Timmy McMullan converted, 38-5.
The 4th and final quarter was a messy affair, totally controlled by penalty offences. Farquar streaked in from distance for a try converted by Timmy McMullan, to leave the final score at 45-12 to Grosvenor.
This was an excellent and very commendable first outing for the Academy side. Taking the pitch with 30 players at this level is due to the excellent work being done off the pitch. It waits to be seen if Academy rugby takes off in Ulster. 23 Clubs have stated their interest in competing at this level. It is seen as a process to aid the transition of younger players into the adult game. We watch with baited breath for the decisions to be made. However what can be categorically stated is that there most certainly is a very talented group of Grosvenor players at this level.
100+ match pics - thanks to Sam Smyth