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Limavady's Gordon West Cup win can be a springboard: Paul O'Kane

Larne 8-46 Limavady

By Jonathan Bradley

Limavady claimed the Gordon West Cup with a clinical eight-try demolition of Larne at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday.

The two top teams in Kukri Qualifying Three this season, Larne were gunning for the league and cup double after clinching the title with 14 wins from 14 games but this fourth meeting of the season between the two sides bore no resemblance to the tight affairs earlier in the year.

From first whistle to last, Limavady were relentless, starting and finishing the game looking dangerous.

Head coach Paul O'Kane felt his side were due a victory over their coastal opponents.

"I think that type of score was coming," he said. "In the three games we've played against them this year we've dominated but just been unable to score. Sometimes we don't take our chances, and that's what has cost us dear in the league this season, but the gameplan worked well here.

"I think we've a pack that could play a few leagues higher up, and the backline can be a work in progress sometimes, but we were fantastic from one to 20."

While missing out on promotion still stings, O'Kane concluded that the cup victory was the perfect way to round off the season.

"It's obviously good to get that monkey off the back with regards to Larne and they'll go up and good luck to them," he said.

"We've a young team but hopefully we can use this as a springboard and have a team that stays together for a good few years."

The Roesiders started the game with real intent and although the referee's whistle ensured their first trip to the opposing 22 brought no points, it was a short wait for the opening score.

With just three minutes gone, South African centre Greg Jordon made huge ground as he danced around two tackles and, while he was halted by the last line of defence, the ball was recycled quickly and Peter Wilson had enough pace to touch down.

The sideline conversion wasn't angled enough but Limavady extended the lead shortly after.

An awkward bounce and pressure from Daniel Irvine forced Larne into conceding a line-out deep inside their own territory and prop Clive Scott was able to force his way over from the resulting maul.

Limavady notched their third when scrum-half Jamie Miller dummied his way through the defence for a fine solo try.

Larne tried to force their way back but were repelled by strong maul defence and had to settle for three points when Limavady were pinged for not releasing.

A quick exchange of passes between Miller, Wilson and Pearse McNickle seemed set to put the winger in the clear but, when his charge was halted, Limavady had men over to the left and Chris Hunter crossed the whitewash.

When out-half Luke Faulkner went over for the fifth of the day 10 minutes before the interval, the game seemed over as a contest.

Shortly after the turn Limavady scored again when Faulkner combined well with Miller. McNickle's straightforward conversion moved the score to 36-3.

With the final half hour of the contest a mere formality, both coaches utilised their bench and the game became fragmented, but there was still time for Limavady to pad their advantage.

Persistent team infringements saw Ryan Garrett sent to the bin when the Larne scrum-half was caught offside and moments later a clever line-out allowed Ian Campbell to dive across in the corner and mark what was his last game before retirement with a try.

No 8 Richard McCollum crashed over from close range off a flat pass from makeshift scrum-half Matt Agnew for Larne's only try of the day but it was Limavady who fittingly provided the game's final points.

With Faulkner once again prominent throughout the move, Limavady moved through the phases and substitute Adam Miller was on hand to finish off in the corner, adding even further gloss to the already inflated scoreline.

Belfast Telegraph


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