Donaghadee 1s 15 v Larne 1s 32 & Donaghadee 2s 5 v Donegal Town 1s 27

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Donaghadee travelled to The Glynn last Saturday afternoon to play their first away league game of the season against Larne. With the sun on their backs and playing “up the hill” the Dee started strongly up front with Jack Cooke, Chris Good and Chris Hamilton all making telling drives into Larne territory. The home defence held strong however and after twelve minutes play were awarded a penalty on the Dee ten metre line for an offside offence which was converted to give the Co. Antrim men a three point lead. Five minutes later the Larne side, which had previously been starved of ball. Opened up via their talented backline and capitalised on some weak midfield defence to score a converted try and extend their lead to ten points. Worse was to come for the Dee when Larne No. 9 Garrett exposed the lack of defence on the blindside of a ruck and had a free run-in to score in the corner and give his side a 15-0 lead. The Dee continued to press via the dominance of their lineout and maul which eventually won a penalty after thirty four minutes with Paul Blewitt converting to reduce the deficit at half-time to 15-3.
The began the second half in strong fashion with Gareth Gordon, Tommy Scullion, Matt Kennedy prominent in the maul and after six minutes played in the second half Richard Martindale crashed over from close range to score a try which Blewitt converted. Throughout most of the remainder of the half the Dee continued in similar fashion but the, at times desperate, Larne defence held out. On seventy two minutes the pivotal point of the match occurred when Chade Gelderman was yellow carded for an off the ball offence just at the point when it looked like the quicksilver Ryan Irvine would be able to outpace the home defence from long range. To add insult to injury Larne converted the ensuing penalty from the half way line and turned what may well have been a 17-15 Dee lead into an 18-10 deficit. Larne now smelled victory in their nostrils and their extremely impressive full-back waltzed through weak Dee scramble defence after a loose kick-chase to score a converted try in the corner. Not to be undone however the Dee responded with repeated pick & drives on the re-start getting to five metres out before Cooke powered over for deserved try which remained unconverted. Now in injury time the Dee attacked from all angles in pursuit of a losing bonus point but it was to be Larne who were to have the last word when Garrett tapped a penalty and ran around the tiring Dee defence to score in the corner.
Donaghadee will have better days during the course of the season but it is rare for a side who enjoy such forward dominance to leak a seventeen point margin defeat and the portents for success remain good once the clear deficiencies have been ironed out on the training paddock. The side now look forward to a re-match with Academy on Saturday week when they will hope to avenge last month’s Junior Cup defeat .
The young Dee side strived manfully against their more experienced opponents in this Junior League 3 game at Donaldson Park but eventually the power of the Donegal side won through. This was an encouraging performance from a relatively inexperienced Dee side deprived of key performers who had moved up to the 1st XV and will hold the team in good stead in the league campaign to come.

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