Carrickfergus Rugby Club I XV v Dungannon II XV & U19 XV v Ballyclare U19 XV:

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On Friday 26 October, at Tom Simms Memorial Park,the Carrick 1st XV were beaten by 45 points to 21 by a strong Dungannon II side in the Conference League.

The young Maxol-sponsored Carrick side competed strongly in the first half, and were still within touching distance at the break, but the visitors pulled away in the second half. For the last thirty minutes, Carrick were without second row Mark Davidson who went off injured. Not for the first time this season, Carrick’s defence was not all that it might have been but credit must be given to the strong running Dungannon backs who looked dangerous every time they got the ball.
The home side started badly, conceding a soft try after just two minutes. The try was converted . Johnny Sheriff pulled three points back shortly after when he put over a penalty kick from 40 metres out. Then , after twelve minutes, Carrick’s failure to make first up tackles allowed the visitors to get their second try which was also converted. Five minutes later, they went further ahead with a well worked try using quick off-the -top ball from the line-out to allow their out-half to find space in the Carrick mid-field defence. Shortly after the kick-off though, Carrick got back into the game thanks to a moment of individual brilliance by out-half Aaron McKinney. He exploited a gap in the ten/twelve channel on half-way to burst up to the Dungannon 22 where he neatly stepped their full-back and ran in under the posts. Johnny Sheriff added the points to make the score 21 points to 10 in the visitors favour. With Carrick doing better territorially in this period, and the visitors conceding penalties, one of which resulted in a yellow card, Sheriff added two penalties before half-time to make the score 21 points to 16 in the visitors’ favour at the break.

Just after the re-start, Dungannon increased their lead with a penalty and then added a try when they drove over from a 5-metre scrum. The try was converted and any slender hopes Carrick might have had were ended when they went down to fourteen men following the injury to Mark Davidson. Almost immediately, Dungannon exploted a mix-up in the Carrick defence to score their fifth try which was also converted. To their credit, Carrick battled gamely and , in the last twenty-five minutes, restricted the visitors to just one more converted try. Indeed, the home side got a consolation try in injury time when Johnny Sheriff intercepted on half-way and out-paced the defence to the line. He was unable to convert but still finished the evening with a personal tally of 16 points.
These Conference League games are in some ways a distraction to the Qualifying League teams- something to get out of the way and move on- but they do give sides the chance to test themselves against quality opposition like Dungannon. For at least part of each half, Carrick showed that they can compete.
This week it is back to Qualifying League action when Carrick host Omagh at Tom Simms Memorial Park on Saturday 5 November.
The Carrick team which faced Dungannon was:
A. McIlroy; D. Kirkpatrick, J. Sheriff, J. Wady, K. Quinn; A. McKinney, M. Patterson; E. McBrien, G. Baxter, D. McKeen(Capt), A. Kincaid, M. Davidson, N. Greenwood, J. Smith, M. Patterson.

On Saturday 29 October, the unbeaten Carrick Under 19s played host to Ballyclare and, after an error-strewn first half, drew away in the second half to win by 22 points to 5.
Although there was no rain during the match, heavy showers earlier had left a muddy pitch with the consequence that both sides had difficulty in controlling the greasy ball. The visitors enjoyed the territorial advantage for much of the first half, with the breeze favouring them. However, Carrick probably shaded possession despite Ballyclare being allowed to get away with disruptive early jumping in the line-out. The only score of the first half was a penalty for Carrick kicked by Adam Kendell after ten minutes.
Just after half-time, Ballyclare lost one of their props to injury and scrums were uncontested for the rest of the game. Seven minutes into the second half, Carrick exrtended their lead when Dale Wilson touched down following a great catch and drive from a line-out on the visitors’ 22. Ten minutes later, Ballyclare got their only score when Carrick failed to gather ball tapped back from a line-out close to their line and the visitors were able to gather, re-cycle quickly and go over in the corner.The try was not converted. Just a few minutes later, Carrick scored the best try of the match when Ryan Armstrong touched down following a move up the right touch-line with backs and forwards handling. Dale Wilson and Marcus Brush were prominent as ball carriers in the move. Adam Kendell added the conversion. After twenty-five minutes of the half, Carrick completed the scoring when Dale Wilson touched down again following another catch and drive in the Ballyclare 22. This try was not converted to leave the final score at 22 points to 5 in Carrick’s favour.
After finding difficulty with the greasy ball in the first half, Carrick settled well to their task in the second period and were well in control of the game by mid-way through the half. Loose-head Dale Wilson was adjudged “man of the Match”, not only for his two tries but for his contribution in the scrum, in defence and as a ball-carrier throughout the match. There were also impressive performances from winger Lewis Wilson, No 8, Mark Ferris and Captain and centre Marcus Brush.

The Carrick team was:
J. Sumner; C. Ward, M. Brush(Capt), R. Hamilton, L. Wilson; A. Kendell, M. Bingham; D. Wilson, J. Murray, R. Armstrong, R. McKay, N. Frazer, D. McAllister, J. Millar, M. Ferris.
Also on Saturday, the Carrick 2nd XV lost at home to League leaders Ballynahinch III by 7 points to nil.

Fixtures for 5 November are:
1st XV vs Omagh, home
3rd XV vs Ballymena IV, home
5th XV vs Ballymena V, home
Under 19s vs Randalstown, away

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