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It was clear from the start of this game that Donaghadee’s first-team must have taken heed of the stories they had heard about what a dangerous side UUC can be. Perhaps it was the five changes on Donaghadee’s team last Saturday, or maybe it was the memory of two very close games last season, but the home side began this game with an unaccustomed lack of poise. Although they did mount most of the first attacks in the game, these somehow lacked conviction, and for fifteen minutes the Dee could make no tangible progress.
This did not really signify much; teams usually spend some minutes trying out the opposition. In Donaghadee’s case this was most noticeable with rampaging charges by Chris Schofield and Davy Thompson. But a careless, or perhaps unlucky, lapse by Donaghadee’s out-half presented a chasing UUC forward with a simple pick-up and ten metre dart for a score under the posts and 7-0 to the students. This was certainly an alarm call for Donaghadee.
As they strove to redress the balance they had some assistance from their opponents who allowed a lack of maturity to cause silly penalty offences. Andy Monson took no time in converting two of them for 7-6, and Donaghadee were fairly happy to be back, near-enough on terms. This seemed to settle the home side and they began to show more cohesion. Mixing their tactics between controlled rucking and mauling and some quick-release ball to their backs brought some excitement to the game, but some very determined tackling by the students gave the scorekeeper little to do but enjoy the game. UUC’s eagerness cost them some composure and then some over-eagerness cost them a flanker to the sin-bin, and another three points to the Dee.
Early in the second half Monson made the score 12-7 for his team when he kicked another penalty for the Dee, but a demonstration of sheer pace by the UUC left wing coming from almost nowhere soon gave his team an equalizing try. This actually served to rally the Dee men, and they produced some excellent and entertaining work, with their back row three of Richard Millar and the two Hamiltons, Chris and Paul, doing some impressive constructive and destructive work. Also noticeable was the growing confidence of Donaghadee’s right-wing Chris McGivern. This fairly light young man is rapidly maturing in his game and making the right wing slot his own with a high tackle rate, and manifest eagerness for work.
The Donaghadee team’s pressure and a little bit of good fortune eventually brought them reward. A high kick from out-half Paul Blewitt looked simple enough for the UUC full-back to deal with, but rugby balls are not spherical. It bounced at right angles – right into the eager arms of the chasing Richard Millar who scampered over to give his team another try and a kicking opportunity to take the total to 19-12.
With only 11 minutes now left in the game, a second yellow card for UUC and an easy 22-12 scoreline now made things look ominous for them. However, the students did come back hard, and suddenly their big right wing showed his class, and impressive strength and pace, with a steaming run through a disjointed Donaghadee defence and too many sloppy tackles for a consolation try. It seemed that the forced changes were inhibiting oral communication among the backs, and certainly this try was largely due to the Donaghadee players not being sure whose man was whose. Things were still tight enough, and Donaghadee were glad to get a penalty when once again UUC’s forwards were over-hasty and presented Donaghadee with an almost unmissable penalty, and the final whistle sounded with game scoreboard now reading 25-17 to Donaghadee, and therefore no bonus points for either team.
Donaghadee team: Andy Monson,Chris McGivern, Ian Martindale, Andrew Findlater, Rory Garnham, Paul Blewitt, Alistair Lockhart: Chris Good (c), Gareth Gordon, Chris Schofield, David Thompson, Richard Martindale, Chris Hamilton, Paul Hamilton and Richard Millar.
This Saturday
Donaghadee’s 1st XV visit Ballynahinch for a somewhat daunting encounter in the rather odd Conference League. This on occasion pits Qualifying League clubs’ First XVs against Ulster’s Senior League Second XVs. Such games are often attractive, and can be a great learning experience, but when a Qualifying League 2 team is pushing hard for promotion it is a bit of a distraction and also creates the possibility of injury in a game that, against the unbeaten Senior League Second XV leaders looks to be an almost-impossible task.
Donaghadee’s Second XV is away to Academy in the league and the Thirds host Randalstown. All games to kick off at 2.30pm.
For Your Diary
December begins with a home league game against the fast-improving Lisburn side. The club’s next pre match lunch is scheduled for that day and reservations are mostly in. Anyone wishing to attend should contact Hans Arthur at Grace Neills Bar, or Club Hon Sec Jim McGrugan as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

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