Carrick’s 1st XV maintained their unbeaten 2015/16 league record with an 11-5 victory over Randalstown at Tom Simms Memorial Park on Saturday.
The win leaves them six points clear of Coleraine at the top of Section 2 of the Kukri Qualifying League and 12 points clear at the top of the Conference League - a fitting way to end 2015, the club’s 150th anniversary.
The 1st XV have lost only two league games in the calendar year - both to last season’s champions Omagh.
It’s a tribute to the work of Warren McClean and Neil Hanna together with the contribution of senior players such as Aaron McKinney and Andy Kinkaid.
The game against Randalstown was highly competitive with wet and breezy conditions stifling free-flowing play. Defences were on top, with the two tries scored - one to each side - coming from training ground moves. The Carrick heroes were in the pack, with the backs mostly reduced to defensive roles as both sides found moving the greasy ball through multiple phases next to impossible.
Carrick took the lead when a well-worked line-out move produced a try for Chris Rodgers. They kicked to touch from a penalty and at the ensuing line-out Andy McKeen took the ball cleanly, delayed release as the line-out split and Rodgers raced through the gap for an unconverted score.
After 15 minutes, Randalstown levelled the scores with another try from a training ground move. It was a well-timed kick from their out-half which was caught by the right winger in acres of space and he easily rounded the one Carrick defender for an unconverted score.
Twelve minutes into the second half, pressure from the home side did produce a penalty which Luke Whittall converted to give Carrick an 8-5 lead. As the half wore on, Carrick began to dominate possession but could not find a way through a very well organised and determined Randalstown defence.
Forays by the visitors into the Carrick half were rare but Carrick did not close out the game until injury time when a high tackle by a Randalstown player resulted in a penalty inside their 22 and Whittall converted to give Carrick an 11-5 win.
Carrick team v Randalstown: A. McKinney; P. Simpson, R. Hamilton, R. Bailey, B. Alexander; L. Whittal, C. Cambridge; D. McKeen, N. Hanna, R. williams (J. McIlwaine), C. Rodgers, A. Kinkaid, A. McKeen, R. Marsden (Capt), R. McGonigle.