Carrick Rugby Club Notes: I XV move to mid table

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The Carrick 1st XV gained a bonus point win for the second week in succession when they beat University of Ulster, Coleraine (UUC) by 27 points to 18 at Woodlawn on Saturday 19 February. This means that the Maxol-sponsored Carrick side leap-frog UUC in the League and move into mid-table. On a nearly perfect day for rugby, the two sides provided an enjoyable encounter, with the result in doubt until the very end. The Carrick performance was certainly one of their best of the season. The pack competed ferociously at the break-down and, until the final quarter at leasst, had parity in the set pieces. While the stand-out performer was full-back Craig Clarke, who scored three tries and had a superb all-round game, there were also excellent performances from a number of others. The half-backs, Glen Picken and Aaron McKinney controlled the game well and both kicked intelligently to ensure that Carrick were, for much of the game, playing in the right parts of the field. Open-side Ross Marsden had an excellent game, winning ball at the break-down and putting in some crunching tackles, while No 8, Andy McKeen, was once again probably Carrick’s leading ball-carrier and did a great tidying up job when the scrum was under pressure late on.

The visitors got off to a great start when one of their second row forwards went over for a try in the fifth minute.This followed a line-out on the Carrick 22 and quickly re-cycled possession. The try was converted. At this early stage, UUC had territorial advantage but it was the home side which got the next try after fifteen minutes. Following a line-out catch and drive, a kick by Aaron Mckinney into the visitors 22 was well chased by Daryll Crothers and Craig Clarke and, when UUC failed to gather cleanly, the ball was picked up by Jason Wady who went over unopposed. The try was not converted. With Carrick now spending most of the time in their opponents territory, it was no surprise that they got the next score. On twent-five minutes, UUC tried to run the ball out of defence, were turned over after a great tackle by McKinney and Craig Clarke gathered and went through a gap to touch down under the posts. Glen Picken added the conversion points to give Carrick a 12 points to 7 lead. The lively UUC team continued to pose a threat, particularly through their skillful backs, and they reduced the deficit with a penalty after thirty minutes.However, Carrick extended their lead after thirty-nine minutes when Craig Clarke went in for his second try. From turn-over ball at a line-out in the Carrick 22, first Andy McKeen and then Aaron McKinney made ground before a long pass from David Kirkpatrick found Clarke who showed pace and strength to beat the UUC defence on the outside and score. The try was not converted. In the third minute of injury time, UUC put over another penalty to keep themselves in touch and half-time was reached with the score at 17 points to 13 in Carrick’s favour.
The third quarter was somewhat scrappy, with the visitors in particular making quite a few errors. Carrick were not able to capitalise, however, and came close to paying the price. After twent-one miniutes, and probably against the run of play, UUC scored when they moved the ball quickly to their speedy left winger who made lot of ground before putting his No 8 in at the corner. The conversion attempt hit the post but UUC were now back in the lead by 18 points to 17. With ten minutes of normal time to go, Carrick got their noses in front again when line-out ball was switched first right and then left before a well-timed pass from Aaron McKinney put Craig Jordan in at the corner. The try was not converted. From this point on,
Carrick were fairly much in control and extended their lead deep in injury time when Craig Clarke got his hat-trick try. This came after Ross Crymble had made a lot of ground following a line-out to set up a good attacking position. After a 5 metre scrum, Clarke took advantage of an attempted intercept by a UUC back to find space and go in for the try. This was not converted, leaving Carrick the winners by 27 points to 18.
On Saturday 26 February, Carrick travel to Enniskillen.
The Carrick team which faced UUC was:
C. Clarke; D. Crothers, J. Wady, D. Kirkpatrick, C. Jordan; A. McKinney, G. Picken; D. McKeen, R. Higgins, G. Leslie, S. Currie(Capt), R. Crymble, N. Marsden, R. Marsden, A. McKeen.

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