Limavady seal promotion thanks to late McMurray try against Coleraine

Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship Division 2 Play-off Final

By Paul McIntyre
Monday, 25th April 2022, 10:21 am
PROMOTION SECURED! Jody McMurray uses his strength to power over the line and secures the late win for Limavady in the promotion play-off on Saturday. (Photo: Steve Haslett)
PROMOTION SECURED! Jody McMurray uses his strength to power over the line and secures the late win for Limavady in the promotion play-off on Saturday. (Photo: Steve Haslett)

After a gap of nine years, Limavady First XV will dine at the top table of junior rugby again after seeing off neighbours Coleraine in a tense Championship Two play-off final at the John Hunter Memorial Grounds on Saturday afternoon.

Limavady finished the season unbeaten and a staggering 19 points ahead of their opponents but you would’ve been forgiven for thinking that it was the visitors that finished top of the table as the Roesiders were shocked in the opening half and played catch up for the majority of the second. With Limavady defending an unbeaten run that stretches back to the beginning of the 2019 season, a nervous energy was clearly evident amongst the hosts and a more relaxed Coleraine almost took advantage.

With just three minutes remaining the Bannsiders were clinging on to a four-point lead, 16-12, but after defending stoutly for much of the contest, Limavady found a way through and centre Jodi McMurray touchdown to send the majority of the large crowd present into hysterics. In the end it was a deserving win for Graeme Eastwood’s side. In the second half they upped their

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Matthew Haslett opens the score for Limavady with a try in the corner during Saturday's tense Championship Two play-off final at the John Hunter Memorial Grounds. (Photos: Steve Haslett)

performance levels in attack while also keeping the opposition scoreless.

Coleraine took the game to Limavady from the first minute and were unfortunate not to come away with more than the three points they did after out-half McNeill converted a third minute penalty. Number 8 Hughes almost found a way through but he was met by a mighty hit from McMurray as Coleraine went about setting their stall out from the off.

Eventually Limavady settled and got their running game going. Some slick handling though the backs saw winger Matty Hazlett race down the left side of Limavady’s attack to finish in the corner for a two-point lead.

But the visitors went on to dominate the rest of the half and after McNeill kicked another penalty, the visitors started to enjoy themselves. In the space of five minutes a one-point lead became an 11-point lead as twice Crowe got in behind the Limavady defence to leave an upset well and truly on the cards. Limavady were well and truly rattled and they were more than happy to turnaround at the break trailing by just 16-5.

Limavady's Michael Shiels get the tackle in on Coleraine’s Peter Todd during Saturday's dramatic Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship Two Play-off Final. (Photo: Steven Haslett)

Aided by a breeze in the second half Limavady still struggled to get their running game going. The game turned rather scrappy which suited Coleraine as the clocked continued to tick closer to the 80th minute, but with 15 minutes remaining the hosts were thrown a lifeline.

High risk rugby was replaced by a more patient build up and a rare visit into the Coleraine ’22’ saw Johnny Lees crash over. With Peter Wilson converting and it was now a one score game.

Coleraine were struggling for territory but the Limavady set-piece was failing to take full advantage before captain Ben Riley stepped up to the plate and his calming influence saw a more purposeful Limavady in the final stages.

As Coleraine started to tire, Limavady took full advantage and when McMurray crashed over in the 77th minute, there was only going to be one winner.

Limavady: J McIntosh, A Miller, C Scott, J Townley, M Shiels, S Simpson, J Lees, B Riley, D Craig, P Wilson, B Maxwell, J McMurray, R Lamberton, M Hazlett, J McCartney. Replacements: J Boucher, M Rice.

Coleraine: C Butler, M Lamont, C Breadon, T Hutchinson, S McLean, M Mooney, J King, B Hughes, R Gillan, T McNeill, C Skuce, B Kirkpatrick, R O’Kane, J Crowe, M Smyth, Replacements: D Greatorex, M Bailie