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UUC 20 – CIYMS 50

Students provide early test for CIYMS in season opener in Coleraine.

The first game of the season came and went without major incident on Saturday. Pre-season training had gone well with the focus being concentrated on skills and fitness. University of Coleraine had an indifferent season last term and with memories of the home match last year, where we lost with the last kick of the game, still fresh, there was an air of unfinished business about the first encounter of the season. The coaching staff and players wanted to make an early statement in a hugely competitive league, and the team delivered a performance that was a good start.

The team had talked about the kind of game the students would want to play prior to the game; fast and open and we were looking to dominate up front and run our patterns from quick ruck ball.

The students started the game well, with an early break from the 10 leading to a ruck under our posts. They ran the ball wide from the recycled possession and they scored through their excellent left winger out wide. 7-0 down in the first 2 minutes.

This seem to jolt us into action. Pushing hard up front and with excellent breaks from Neil Wallace, Michael Wilson and Robin Brown, slowly we asserted our dominance in the loose. Scores in the first half came from Stuart Fergusson, Robin Brown, Michael Wilson and Matthew McGuiggan on senior debut. Matthew also added the extras and a couple of penalties. 32 – 10 at half time.

With the bonus point secured, the discussion at half time was again around not being dragged into a “game of sevens” and to apply structure to our phase play. Back row needed to be more visible and more mobile and the focus for the final 40 minutes concentrated on a performance rather than a cricket score.

Half time came at the right time, as the first 10 minutes of the second half saw excellent link play, pattern and movement. We started to dominate the game on our terms and the Mike Willis and Scott Dowle, who had come on for Ross Hackney, showing particular skill at the breakdown. However, the students were not for capitulating and some sterling defence saw us remain at the same score line until the final 15 minutes. Our scrum was becoming more dominant as the game wore on and Steve McReynolds and Paddy Aitken were winning our own lineout ball with ease. Matthew Armstrong, who found himself on the wing due to an injury to Paul McCausland scored in the corner after good hands from Ricky Greenwood and with a try for the Students in the dying minutes, Robin Brown scored on full time to complete the half century.

This was a good work out for the team. A number of new faces impressed with their composure and the team were happy with the win. Lots to work on, but the signs for our next game, Portadown away, are positive.

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