Carrick dig deep in narrow win over Grosvenor
Grosvenor 13 Carrick 19
CARRICK held on to beat Grosvenor by six points in a well contested Kukri Qualifying 2 match at Belmont on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors had led by a score of 19-3 with less than half an hour remaining but two second-half tries by Grosvenor, as well as a pair of yellow cards for Carrick, had the teams separated by less than a converted score at the conclusion.
Speaking after the win, Carrick captain Andy Kincaid was pleased with the way his side responded to their opponent's resurgence in the latter stages.
He said: "Grosvenor are a young side and a very fit side, whereas we have a few old boys, so it's nice to be able to grind out the win.
"It's a middle of the table clash so it was going to be close, and two yellow cards didn't help, but the boys really stuck together.
"We've got Omagh next week in the last game before Christmas and with them going well at the moment it was important to get the win ahead of that."
Carrick lost hooker Neil Hanna in the warm-up, while out-half Johnny Sheriff was also hampered by a muscle injury picked up just before kick-off, and it was Grosvenor who started the brightest, taking the lead from a Peter Davidson penalty after just a minute of play.
They held that advantage, despite giving away a pair of kickable penalties, until the 26th minute when Carrick scored the game's first try.
A break led by the midfield pairing of Aaron McKinney and Johnny Cullen had momentarily threatened as Carrick advanced towards the line but Jamie Ball held them up and a penalty seemingly gave the home side a chance to clear.
However, Curtis Rea got his hand to a line-out to turn the ball over and Sheriff's pass released the impressive McKinney who burst through to score with Luke Whittle adding the extras.
Moments before half-time, Grosvenor prop Phil Hill was shown a yellow card for being off his feet at a ruck and, after Carrick kicked the resulting penalty to the corner, Rea again secured the line-out and allowed Neil Marsden to power over the whitewash.
Despite starting the half a man short, Grosvenor had the first scoring opportunity after the turn but Davidson could not add a further penalty and, just before Hill's return to the fray, McKinney scored Carrick's third try after breaking clear.
With Carrick now just one score away from a try bonus, a five-point haul for the away side seemed the most likely outcome, but Grosvenor responded and soon began to reduce the deficit.
After Davidson found a good touch in the corner, Grosvenor's pack prepared to drive over but Carrick once again disrupted the line-out.
Rather than a turnover on this occasion however, Jeff Mealiff was quickest to corral the loose ball and the flanker crossed to score uncontested.
The referee had been forced to issue several warnings to Andy Kincaid about the conduct of his team and eventually lost patience, showing a yellow card to McKinney after an infraction in the ruck.
Matters worsened for Carrick just four minutes later when, after Curtis Rea's high tackle on Chris Cahoon, their numbers were reduced further and they were forced to defend with just thirteen men.
With seven minutes remaining, Grosvenor made it a one score game with a try from centre Chris Quinn.
A break from Davidson had Grosvenor deep in the opposing 22, but despite moving through a number of phases, they were met by determined tackling from Carrick.
That was until a strong carry from Jamie Ball created space and Quinn beat his man well to go over in the corner.
They were unable to complete the comeback however, with Carrick's defence proving resolute for the remainder.