Classy Larne maintain pressure on league leaders Malone
It was a thoroughly enjoyable game of rugby in Minor East 1 as Larne III defeated Armoy 18-5 to keep the pressure on Malone V at the top of the table.
It was expected to be closely fought and Armoy were out for revenge after Larne's 44-41 triumph over them in early November. This was Larne's first game of the new year and it wasn't long before they were in front.
Captain Ben Meikle explained: "After recycling the ball, centre Nick Kelso dashed in from 10 metres out but Johnny Hall's conversion attempt missed. They quickly came back at us but our robust defending held them up three times over our line."
The sustained pressure had to tell and the Armoy forwards softened up their opposite numbers before the ball was spun wide and with the overlap they levelled with a Frank Casey try.
They were handicapped during the period when a player was yellow carded and Larne struck again when a kick through was fumbled and Kelso was on hand to score.
"In the second half Armoy created numerous problems for us but Kelso made it 15-5 with his third try. A few minutes later, our scrum-half John O'Toole kicked a penalty from 20 metres out," Meikle added.
Armoy's Neil Porterfield thought it was a good team effort. He said: "Everybody made a contribution but No 8 Steve Bartlett was our man of the match. He was always in the action with robust tackling and excellent handling."
Undefeated Malone's 17-5 win at Ballymoney IV leaves them with 22 points while Larne are six points behind, both having played 11 games.
Other East 1 results: Antrim 36 BHSFP II 26, Randalstown III 0 PSNI II 24.