Coleraine RFC Notes: II XV Storm Into Ravenhill Crawford Cup final!!!!!!!!!! 48 v Omagh RFC II XV 10

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Coleraine 2XV have made it through to the final of the Crawford Cup for the second year running after demolishing Omagh 2XV in yet another scintillating performance of running rugby. A long bus trip and a heavy pitch could have paved the way for a potential upset, but in a thoroughly entertaining match from start to finish, the Coleraine team ran out clear winners by six tries to one. Omagh fielded a large, physical team but in the end could not compete with the skills, speed and intensity that Coleraine played with both in attack and defence.

Omagh kicked off playing down the slight hill, but Coleraine were able to quickly clear their lines through the boot of fly-half Chris Gowland who sent up a towering up-and-under kick which was fumbled by the Omagh fullback. The resulting scrum gave Coleraine position to unleash their electric back line, and it wasn’t long before they had made their way deep into Omagh territory through good running from centre Ray Naea. Eventually Omagh gave up a penalty and Alan Gourley obliged with the kick for a 3-0 lead. Omagh came straight back at Coleraine and gained a lineout close to the Coleraine line, but the throw went straight into the hands of Alex Gourley to win possession back for Coleraine. However, moments later in the clearing kick, a Coleraine winger was caught offside and Omagh converted the penalty chance to level the game at 3-3. Coleraine got on the front foot and this time speedy winger Stevie Callaghan flew up the right wing to within 10 metres of the Omagh line. A few plays later, Omagh had the chance to relieve the pressure but the kick went straight into the hands of full back Paul Shiels who ran infield and then fired the ball wide to centre John McClelland. He then drew the covering defensive before giving the pass to winger Alan Gourley who sprinted in from 30 metres out to score the opening try. Coleraine retained possession from the kick off, and strong forward running from prop Adam Teasey and cannonball hooker Stuart Evans pushed Coleraine back into the Omagh half. Another Omagh infringement gave Coleraine another 3 points through an Alan Gourley kick to extend the Coleraine lead to 13-3.

Now in the ascendancy, Coleraine scored their second try about 10 minutes later with a perfectly executed training-ground play from a scrum on the left side of the field. Paul Shiels finished the move with a superb line cutting through the defensive to get under the posts for another seven-pointer. Coleraine now had all the possession and were running the ball from everywhere, with the Omagh defense at sixes and sevens. Quick interchange between Ray Naea and Stevie Callaghan carved play to within metres of the Omagh line. The ball ended up in the hands of scrum-half Scott Caithness who wandered over the try line and then waltzed round a couple of players to score under the posts. In the dying seconds of a spectacular first half, Alan Gourley attempted a world record penalty kick into the wind and was unlucky when it landed only 20 yards short, but Coleraine took to the sheds 27-3 to the good.

Revived by half time oranges and rallying pep talk, Coleraine came out with all guns blazing and flew straight into the Omagh pack. Knowing the next score would be vital, Omagh made a school-boy error by presenting the ball to the now-unstoppable Alan Gourley with a loose clearance kick. Alan danced the tango round what appeared to be the entire Omagh team before scoring beneath the posts. Seemly out of sight and with a 34-3 lead, Coleraine then switched off for about 10 minutes which allowed Omagh to play the Omagh game, never pass the ball beyond the fly-half and batter away with the forwards in endless rucks and mauls. Coleraine gave away a flurry of penalties, and after a while the ref had had enough and banished Ronnie Caskey to the bin after one to many Coleraine infringements.

Omagh then scored their only try of the game when a horribly sliced clearance kick was taken by their outside centre who ran in from 20 yards. The onslaught came again, but the Coleraine defence was strong, led by John McClelland and open-side Greg Neely, producing a number of vital turn-overs and big smashing hits frequently putting the Omagh ball carriers on the back foot. With 15 minutes to go, the Coleraine machine got back in action, and a break out from Alex Gourley gave the pass outside to Paul Shiels, who crashed in at the corner and was awarded the try after a lengthy break for a TMO decision. Alan Gourley leisurely popped over the conversion from the touchline to make the score 41-10. With Omagh wilting, Coleraine scored their sixth and final try as Paul Shiels went in under the posts for his hat-trick try after replacement scrum-half Nicky Blair made a half break, sucking in a number of Omagh defenders to create space for Shiels to break though the non-existent Omagh defense.

A great all round performance from the entire squad who took the pitch and Omagh were probably blown away after the first 50 minutes play. A slight lapse half way through the second half, but was more a point that Omagh played to their strengths before Coleraine turned up the heat again. Credit to Omagh who played with good spirit and commitment throughout the game, and many thanks to all who made the long trek from to support the team. The final is set for Easter Tuesday at Ravenhill and it is our near neighbours Ballymoney 2s who will provide the opposition in what is bound to be a great derby match.

Coleraine 2XV: P Shiels, S Callaghan, R Naea, J McClelland, Alan Gourley, C Gowland, S Caithness, A Teasey, S Evans, A Nevin, R Gibson, R Caskey, H Tate, G Neely, Alex Gourley. Subs (all played): A Stirling, P Brown, W Chestnutt, C McNay, N Blair

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