After a shaky start, Ophir First XV ran out comfortable winners against Armoy in the league stages of the Gordon West Cup on Saturday.
With just five minutes gone prop John-Joe Flood was held up just before the line and from the five-metre scrum, full-back Dee O’Reilly crashed over for the opening try. David Walker added the extras from the resulting kick.
Armoy levelled matters with a converted try of their own before landing another score to go 12-7 up.
Ophir came back to life on the half-hour. Masterminding from the touchline, Ophir coach Ken Campbell, demanded that his side keep the ball away from the Armoy forwards and get a running game going. The plan worked.
Before half time, scrum-half Karl Davis scored close to the posts and Walker’s conversion put Ophir back in the lead.
A Walker penalty, plus another try and conversion from the same man saw Ophir 24 – 12 up at the break.
The second half proved to be an absolute delight for the home supporters. Every time the backs got the ball they ran hard at the defence; the support play and close passing created gaps which they exploited cheerfully.
Davis was first to score after a remarkable run from second row, Patrick McCabe.
Cillian Rooney and winger Steve Hastings both crossed the line and with Walker’s excellent conversions, Ophir led 43-12.
The visitors kept their heads up and in the 60th minute the left wing skipped through three tackles to score at the touchline. The conversion was missed, but it heralded a storming onslaught by the Armoy pack. Twice they were denied further scores by the Ophir defence just about holding them up on the line.
The pace of play couldn’t be sustained, and in the last 10 minutes of the match both sides struggled to take command with knock-ons and turnovers dominating play.
Ophir ran out 43 - 17 winners at the final whistle.
Meanwhile, Ophir Second XV’s league game against Ballyclare Fourths on Saturday was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
More rugby coverage in this week’s Times, including Ballyclare RFC and Academy RFC