Donaghadee 2nd XV 17 Ballymena 4th XV 12
Donaghadee II welcomed Ballymena IV to Donaldson Park in an important clash for both teams in Junior League 4 last Saturday. On this occasion the Dee men started really well and within five minutes of the start the in-form Andy McGrugan broke down the left wing with great pace to score the first try of match. Ballymena then upped their game and shortly after set up a driving maul which finished up in a score. Not to be outdone the Dee then probably had their best spell of the match during which centre Andy Cash broke through a few tackles to score another try for the home side. This was converted by McGrugan. On the stroke of half time the hard working Owen Roberts picked up what looked like a serious neck injury after making a huge tackle on their big ball carrier. With the ambulance called and Owen not able to be moved the players went into the changing rooms returning twenty five minutes later to start the second half. The good news came later that Owen had just suffered severe whiplash. The incident seemed to affect his team mates somewhat as Ballymena now came back strongly and scored a converted try to bring the match all square. With now less than fifteen minutes left and Ballymena on the up it was looking like a very hard task for the Dee but this team haven’t won their last four matches on the trot by giving in and so it proved after a very strong run from Chris McGivern into the left hand corner the ball eventually found its way to the right wing where hooker Rhys Thompson went around a defender & handed off another to score the match winning try. The gutsy Dee side held out to notch up another win. In what was more of a team performance it was good to see Stuart Hutchinson back in the red and green. With no Stephen Cullen, Paul Blewitt took over the captaincy looking very much like he’s enjoying his rugby again orchestrating the young men around him.
Bangor 3rd XV 36 Donaghadee 3rd XV 7
On a sunny Saturday at Uprichard Park a young and spirited Bangor 3s came away with the social rugby bragging rights defeating their neighbours from the Dee. The Dee side arrived in Bangor missing a few key forwards and always knew that winning their share from the lineout was going to present difficulties but with full confidence that their pack could produce enough ball to let their backline packed with experience and pace out wide to cause some problems.
The early kick off attracted a reasonable support on the touchline and it was Bangor who started strongly and the Dee found themselves defending their line within the first minute of the game. The Dee defence held strong with some stern work from the stand in second rowers Jonny Ballagh and Lee Munroe, and some good turnover work at the breakdown by the ever present Phil Weston meant that the Dee could clear their lines. Unfortunately during these early exchanges Dee centre Davy McMinn had to leave the pitch with a gash to the head and was not to return to play. The following twenty minutes was a fairly even period with both packs and backlines putting each other to the test to no great effect. On the half hour mark the Dee cleared their lines from a tap back into the 22. The Bangor pack seemed as confused as the Dee counterparts when they were offered the choice of a SCRUM or lineout deep inside the Dee 22. The resultant scrum led to the first score of the game with a strong break from the home No. 8. This score seemed to boost the home team’s confidence and during a five minute spell before half time the evasive Bangor backs added a further three tries in the right hand corner to give them a convincing 24-0 half time lead.
With the wind at the Dee’s back the second half was a much closer affair with Bangor adding a further two scores to Donaghadee’s one. Some strong midfield bursts from stand in centre Jordan Ellingham and the returning from injury James Cheshire showed promise but the Dee were unable to capitalise until a charged down clearance kick was pounced upon by Benny Drummond to double the front rowers lifetime scoring tally. Final score Bangor 36 Donaghadee 7.
All in all a frustrating loss and a bruising encounter in which the best team on the day took the league points. It is hoped that the injured Dee men Davy McMinn and Mark Nicholl heal quickly and are fit to return to 3rd XV service again in the New Year. On a more positive note it was great to have old faces Benny Drummond and Michael Moore back in harness and to have a big effort from DRFC debutant Gareth Ritchie a week after celebrating his 18th birthday.
The 1st XV return to league action this Saturday when they have a home game against Ballymoney in a game which may well prove to be key to both sides seasons. The 2nd XV have a break whilst the 3rd XV travel to East Belfast for a league game against Malone 4th XV. Both games kick-off at 2:30pm.
Pre-Match Christmas Lunch
Donaghadee 1st XV play Ballymoney in a key Qualifying One league game at Donaldson Park this incoming Saturday and there will be Christmas Lunch by Bow Belles in the Club at a cost of £10 for two courses. If you would like to go please contact Ian Fleming as soon as possible as places are going fast.
Christmas Casino Night
A hugely successful night took place last Saturday night in Donaghadee Golf Club in aid of Club funds and the RNLI. Good food, good fun and fairly lucrative if you were successful on the tables. Great thanks are due to organisers Wesley Martin, Peter Walker, Bertie Bell and Roy Shields whose efforts are greatly appreciated by both the Club & RNLI.