GORDON WEST CUP Quarter-Final:
UUC 5, Limavady 10
Holders Limavady advanced to the Gordon West Cup semi-finals after surviving a difficult examination of their trophy credentials against Ulster University Coleraine on Saturday.
In wet and windy conditions, the tie between the top two sides in Qualifying Section 3 was billed the ‘tie of the round’ as runaway league leaders Limavady faced up to the rejuvenated University side who went into the game with considerable momentum..
Playing with the wind in the first half, the visitors went on the offensive from kick-off and Jack McCool had an early opportunity but his penalty just shaded the wrong side of the post. However he made amends in the 10th minute with his second effort of the day, driving the ball over the bar from 40m.
The elements were making running rugby difficult but from a line-out in the 20th minute, Limavady managed to put together a move that broke the home rearguard. Quick ball from the set piece saw possession make its way to the recalled Greg Jordan, and the veteran Kiwi broke the game line to touch down beside the posts with McCool kicking the conversion for a 10-0 lead.
The hosts then had a good spell of possession and territory themselves. Buoyed on by gaining advantage at the scrum they forced their way into the Limavady ‘22’ and almost scored a try of their own but their rolling maul was stopped illegally five metres from the line.
Having just missed with a shot at goal minutes earlier, the Students elected for a scrum from which captain and flanker Scott McAteer was adjudged to have grounded the ball on the line despite the best efforts of Matty Haslett.
With the conversion missed Limavady still had the cushion of a five point lead but a five point lead didn’t look sufficient facing into a second half against the elements.
The first 10 minutes of the half UUC set up camp in the Limavady ‘22’ but just like every game this season, the disciplined Limavady defence stood firm. However the pressure did yield a penalty on 50 minutes but with the kicker all set to begin his run up, the ball fell off the tee. He still managed to get a drop goal attempt in but his effort drifted wide to the relief of the ‘Men in Black’.
The restart gave the Roesiders a chance to regroup and play some rugby in the right areas. Despite having much more of the ball for the next 20 minutes, Limavady just couldn’t break into the Uni ‘22’.
With the weather deteriorating unforced errors were starting to creep into both sides play, as well as a bit of anxiety as everyone knew that the next score would mean a place in the semi-final.
As the game entered the final five minutes UUC were awarded a penalty on half-way which was kicked into the corner. This signalled the beginning of an intense period of pressure from the home side. Time and again during the closing stages plus the seven additional minutes time the Students ran relentlessly at the Limavady line only to be denied over and over.
The Limavady scrum has come in for some criticism this season but their determination and discipline in those closing stages was nothing short of heroic and as the Coleraine based students made one final charge to the Limavady line, they were forced into conceding a penalty which Luke Faulkner gladly kicked into touch to bring an end to a very tense cup encounter.
The result means the cup holders advance to a semi-final meeting were they will be paired off against one of Holywood, Letterkenny or Lurgan.
It’s back to league action next weekend for Limavady with a home match against Holywood when, depending on results, it is possible the league title could officially be making its way to Roeside. Kick-off at The John Hunter Memorial Grounds is at 2.30pm.
The Seconds are also in league action when they travel to the Dub Lane in South Belfast to take on Queens University Thirds, also at 2.30pm.
Limavady: P. Wilson, M. Haslett, J.M. Miller, G. Jordan, S. Roddy, L. Faulkner, J. Miller. C. Scott, A. McIlmoyle, J. McCollum, J. Purcell, M. Rice, J. McCool, S. Mackey, D. Irvine. Subs P. Browne & S. McLaughlin.
Referee. Mr E. Deans