CIYMS RFC Notes: I XV 23 v Cooke RFC I XV 17 – Reportt

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CI entered this game with a number of significant injuries and absences and fresh off the back of a lacklustre defeat at the hands of Donaghadee. As has been the case on a number of occasions, CI’s determination for this fixture was obvious in the quality and intensity of the warm up, knowing that a win was essential to maintain the challenge for a 2nd place spot in Qualifying 1.
It was Cooke however, who edged the opening exchanges and used their kicking game to control territory. An early infringement by CI was punished with a converted penalty to give Cooke the first points of the evening. After a couple of forward advances that were repelled near the CI line, the ball was spun wide and the Cooke centre showed good determination, adopting a low body angle to barge his way over for the opening score. The try was converted to give Cooke a 10-0 lead.
There had certainly been some positive CI advances in the early stages but the majority had been halted by the referee’s enthusiasm with Gavin Woods in particular being penalised on a number of occasions that restricted CI’s early momentum. CI built pressure for the remainder of the half, good recycling and work by the forwards provided evidence that the team had more than enough resources to worry the opposition. CI were rewarded with a converted penalty at the second attempt to score their first points.
HALF TIME: CI: 3 – 10 Cooke
The team was still confident at the start of the second half, having shown enough promise in the first to mount a comeback. It was started by a break by scrum half Wilson and back-row Gledhill which saw Neil Wallace released down the left wing and in for the score to make it 8-10. The conversion was missed.
In a period of broken play Phil McVitty chipped ahead before re-gathering superbly and releasing out half Stephen Foster who found a gap and despite looking to offload, eventually backed himself to cross the line for a fine score to put CI into a 13-10 lead. The conversion was again unsuccessful.
CI were then guilty of failing to respond with a kick after a Cooke up and under. A poor scrambled pass to scrum half Michael Wilson saw his clearance kick charged down, with the ricochet taking the ball into the CI 22. The resulting chase saw the Cooke centre hack the ball on before excellent covering by Richard Kirkwood held him up just short. The resulting melee on the line saw one of the Cooke forwards edge his way over from close quarters. The wide angled conversion was well converted to put Cooke back into a 17-13 lead.
CI refused to panic at a score that was largely against the run of play and were now beginning to utilise the ball with confidence, combining strong running from the likes of Mark Scott and Ross Hackney with the hard yards from the front five. Stuart Fergusson was particularly prominent in both the tight and loose. A quick turnover following good work at the breakdown from Chris Davidson saw Gledhill combine with Wilson who finished superbly down the right flank to put CI back into an 18-17 lead.
A good number of zigzagging phases soon after saw Ross Hackney hold a number of defenders with a strong run before sending the pass out wide to Skipper Gavin Woods who went over unopposed to ground the ball for the bonus point 4th try and a 23-17 lead. Particularly pleasing during the evening were the communication and effort in defence that had been lacking a week ago. CI were selective in choosing when to apply pressure and forced mistakes from Cooke. Whilst not able to relax due to a 6 point lead, CI were able to keep the opposition pinned down in their own half for the final part of the game to seal the win.
FINAL SCORE: CI: 23 Cooke: 17
CI will be delighted with the performance having not played much rugby recently due to match cancellations and particularly pleased to have obtained a bonus point away from home. With a better conversion % from the tee, the win could have been more comfortable.
Cooke will no doubt be frustrated with their performance and overall record for this season and happy to turn their focus to next year’s campaign already.

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