Ophir 15 v Holywood 16: A last-gasp try and conversion sunk Ophir in Saturday’s Qualifying 4 top-of-the-table clash with Holywood.
Ken Campbell’s men allowed the Holywood pack to dominate the early exchanges and 20 minutes in, found themselves nine points down from three well-taken penalties.
Ophir’s best opportunity of the half came from a break by scrum-half Carl Davis who was stopped just inches from the line.
Full-back David Walker gave Ophir hope in the second session when his penalty went over over with the help of the post.
A minute later, hooker Gerard Crawford broke clear and his brilliant chip forward was touched down by second row Paddy McCabe. Walker added the extras from the conversion, to give them a slender 10-9 lead.
An even period of play was broken in the 30th minute of the half when the home pack battled their way up the pitch for Crawford to cap an excellent display with a try in the corner. Crucially, Walker missed the difficult kick.
An injury to John-Jo Flood made it difficult for him to exert his full influence in the scrum, and the visitors took advantage. In the dying seconds of the game, and despite all of Ophir’s magnificent defence, the Holywood broke through to score. The crowd held its breath at the conversion, and it was good.
Beaten 16-15, it was a case of so near, yet so far for the Mallusk men. A win would have opened things up at the top, but, in the end, a sterling performance came to nothing.