Carrickfergus RFC Notes: Official Maxol Sponsored I XV Notes: Powerade Towns’ Cup 012

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The Carrick 1st XV narrowly lost their first round Towns’ Cup match with Dungannon II on Saturday 5 January, going down by 10 points to 9 at Stephenson Park. In wet and fairly miserable conditions,the Maxol- sponsored Carrick side led from the seventeenth minute of the match and, after a great defensive performance in the second half ,succumbed only to a try in the first minute of injury time. The problem for the visitors was that, in the second half, they were never able to establish an attacking platform in Dungannon territory for more than brief periods and, as it turned out, just one mistaken line-out call was enough to cost them the game. For Carrick, back-rowers Mark Patterson and Ross Marsden and hooker Glen Baxter were outstanding, putting in big tackles, causing turn-overs and,in the conditions, making more ground with ball in hand than the backs. Half-backs ,Ken Topping and Karl Wilkinson, along with centre Andy McIlroy, kicked well out of hand and,in the first half, ensured that Carrick spent a lot of time in their opponents territory.
Matters were fairly even in the early stages and a penalty from Karl Wilkinson after nine minutes cancelled out one by Dungannon a few minutes earlier. After seventeen minutes, Carrick took the lead with another Wilkinson penalty, awarded after a strong drive into the Dungannon mid-field defence by Andy Kincaid. In the period up to half time, Carrick had the better of the territorial game, with Wilinson and McIlroy keeping Dungannaon pegged back with their line kicking. However, with defences on top on both sides, try scoring chances were few and far between. Half-time was reached with Carrick holding onto their 6 points to 3 lead.
Carrick had a great start to the second half when Karl Wilkinson put over an excellent penalty kick from the Dungannon 10 metre line after two minutes. From then on, however, with the breeze in Dungannon’s favour strengthening somewhat, much of the game was played in the visitors’ territory. Carrick had their fair share of possession but, in the conditions, rarely got themselves into a position to seriously threaten the home side’s line. However, Carrick did put in probably their best defensive performance of the season and looked to be heading for victory, having held Dungannon out when they were camped in and around the Carrick 22 in the middle part of the second half. Then, with injury time approaching, Carrick made the decision to throw long at a line-out on their own 10 metre line; Dungannon captured the ball and drove into the 22 from where they re-cycled and put one of their centres into space to score near the posts. The try was converted to give Dungannon the lead by 10 points to 9. In the remaining few minutes, Carrick tried hard to get themselves into penalty range but were unable to do so and the home side finished perhaps somewhat fortunate winners.
Taken together with the win over Larne,the previous week, this game suggests that the young Carrick side is begining to find a level of cohesion which will make them difficult opponents for anyone in the remainder of the season.
Next week, Carrick return to League action with an away fixture against Lisburn.
The Carrick team which faced Dungannon was:-
A. McKinney(Capt); K. Love(K. Jordan), A. McIlroy, A. Moore, R. Hamilton; K. Wilkinson, K. Topping; E. Peacock, G. Baxter, R. Williams, A. Kincaid, C. Rea(A. Gibney), C. Rodgers, R. Marsden, M. Patterson.
Fixtures for Saturday 12 January are:-
1st XV vs Lisburn, away
2nd XV vs Lisburn II, away
3rd XV vs Banbridge IV, home (Cup)
4th XV vs Ballynahinch VII, away

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