Cooke RFC: I XV maintain league challenge in a hard fought encounter v Portadown RFC: Man Of Match Keith Armstrong

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Cooke Rugby Club 35 v Portadown 3

The Belfast side got a rude awakening when Portadown commenced the game in determined fashion. Clever kicking by the visitors out-half Dawson saw Cooke play the opening quarter of the game largely in their own half. It was the same player who opened the scoring with a penalty after 20 minutes when the Cooke backs were caught offside.

The home side then moved up a gear and Murphy’s penalty from the Portadown 22 levelled the score. Cooke maintained their presence in opposition territory and when Colin Mitchell made a great break from the base of Cooke scrum, the ball was spread along the line to his namesake, Kyle Mitchell, for the winger to touch down in the corner. Murphy’s difficult conversion rebounded off the upright.

Portadown retaliated immediately and last-ditch defence by Cooke winger Armstrong prevented an almost certain try for the visitors when winning a one on one showdown on the Cooke 5m line. The two out-halves, Lawson and Murphy failed with penalty attempts at the end of the half leaving the score at the break at Cooke 8 Portadown 3

Cooke recommenced in more enthusiastic fashion and a Murphy penalty extended their lead within the first ten minutes. Mid way through the half another surging run from the Belfast side’s number eight Mitchell saw the ball set up for his centre Pyper to crash over beside the posts. Murphy added the conversion and secured a further lead for Cooke with a penalty when Portadown were guilty of handling in a ruck.

With half an hour played Portadown’s influential number eight Lamb received a yellow card for again preventing release from a ruck. Cooke took an immediate dividend. When awarded a lineout deep in the Portadown 22, Jewhurst, who was having an outstanding game in the set piece, took yet another clean catch. Capitalising on their extra man advantage the Cooke pack shunted Portadown over the line for McMurray to touch down and Murphy to convert.

With ten minutes remaining the home side began to hunt for the all-important, bonus producing, fourth try. The large crowd of local supporters were not to be disappointed. With five minutes remaining Cooke launched another attack and when full-back Cartmill took the ball at pace he broke through the Portadown defence to complete the task. Murphy’s conversion completed the score at

Cooke 35 Portadown 3

This was an extremely encouraging display against a side who had reputedly returned to form. All seventeen players deserve much credit and it was pleasing to witness that Daniel Dawson’s recent absence has not diminished his robust contribution.

President’s Man of the Match Keith Armstrong

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