Donaghadee I XV 41 v Holywood 17 & Donaghadee II XV 19 v Inst 3s 7

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With a host of unavailabilities and injuries to contend with coaches Paul McKenzie and John West introduced Rhys Thompson, Matthew Johnston, Paul Blewitt, Andy Cash, Andy Findlater and Blair Savage into the match-day squad with Adam Torrens making a positional change from prop to lock and Chris McGivern moving from his more familiar position on the wing to cover for injured skipper Alastair Lockhart at scrum-half.
Gareth Gordon assumed the captaincy and the Dee started strongly playing “up the hill” scoring the opening try with the first attack of the game through winger Thomas Slane who cleverly spun his way through the opposition defence after being released by an incisive intervention into the line from full-back Billy Allen. Blewitt added the extras and soon took the score to 10-0 with a well-placed penalty kick. The Dee continued to press with centre Findlater making holes in the Wood defence time and again and scored their second try through lock Kyle Morrow who again spun and drove through the despairing opposition defence to score in the corner.
The Dee faithful on the sideline now settled back to witness a procession but Holywood had other ideas and struck back through the power of the abrasive pack and guile of some elusive runners in the their backs to score an unconverted try. Buoyed by the score Holywood were now dominating possession and pressed the Dee line for a sustained period before standout defence enabled the home side to clear their lines & open a line of attack for Allen to score the try of the day running in from just beyond Holywood’s ten metre line slicing through the defence and dummying a pass to Slane before cutting back inside to cross the line leaving Blewitt to convert.
At a turnaround score of 22-7 against Holywood started the second half the much stronger of the two sides and again scored due mainly through the belligerence of their never-say-die pack. Wood continued to press but were undone when a careless pass was snaffled by Dee centre Ryan Irvine who ran from the half way to score under the posts despite the attention of the despairing Holywood defence. Soon afterwards the Dee attacked from the halfway and Blewiit, who was thoroughly enjoying his return to the big stage, placed a teasing grubber kick for left-wing Slane to follow up on and score in the far left hand corner.
At this point Holywood could have been forgiven for lying down but this was not an option and they once again maintained the lion’s share of possession and scored the third try of the day after sustained pressure from both backs and the forward pack. Donaghadee were to have the last say however and Allen once again carved through a tiring Holywood defence to complete his brace and allow Blewitt to add the extras to leave the final score 41-17 in favour of the home side.
A very entertaining afternoon at Donaldson Park then with Donaghadee profiting from the opportunity to explore their options against dogged opposition. Impressive performances from all the players who came into the mix but most accolades are probably reserved for the veteran duo of Blewitt & Allen together with the excellent forays of youthful No. 8 Stephen Adams who all brought their not inconsiderable influence to bear on a game which will carry the Dee back to league duties with a renewed optimism.

This week the 2’s welcomed Instonians III to Donaldson Park in a top of the table clash in Junior League 4. The Dee men knew a victory would lift them into second place and a promotion spot. The squad saw a number of new faces come into the side, including usual 1st XV squad members David Keys who was returning from a period of unavailability and Mark Cooper, as well as the return of Gareth Martin to the side after his sojourn in Brazil. In addition Jonny Stewart and Josh McCullough were also both making their debuts for the Club at flanker and wing respectively.
The game started with some early Dee pressure arising through strong forward running which led to the Shaws Bridge men conceding a penalty on their own five metre line. As Instonians switched off and waited for Cooper to take the kick, hooker Paul Hamilton saw an opportunity and took a quick tap and burrowed over the line for the first try of the afternoon, which Cooper duly converted. Instonians soon hit back with a penalty thanks to strong running throughout the side.
As the half continued the strong Dee pack really started to come into their own and, with the set piece going well, Cooper soon had a good platform to use his backs, with Davy Kirkpatrick, Richard Bailey and Andy McGrugan all getting chances to run with ball in hand. Soon an overlap appeared in the right-hand corner and, thanks to quick service from scrum half Chris Scott, Cooper was able to feed the ball to McGrugan who dotted down in the corner, leaving the half-time score 12-3 in Donaghadee’s favour.
As the second half kicked off the Donaghadee side seemed to struggle to get back into the game which to their credit Instonians recognised and they started to increase the pressure on the home team. Soon some poor Dee tackling allowed Instonians to score and to bring the score back to 12-10. From the following kick off Instonians again hit back hard and this allowed them another try to lead for the first time taking the score to 17-12. The Dee men soon came back into the game however and, thanks to strong work from flankers Stewart, Keys, skipper & No. 8 Stephen Cullen and out-half Cooper, as well as a few bulldozing runs from Andrew Dunn, the pressure was mounting on a beleaguered Instonians defence . The commanding Dee lineout and rolling maul soon led them to the home side’s next scoring opportunity. With the rolling maul subsequent to a Dee lineout marching their opponents back a good fifteen to twenty metres towards the Instonians twenty-two, hooker Hamilton spotted a small gap in the defence which he drove through to score under the posts and restore the Dee lead to 19-17.
Donaghadee saw out the rest of the game thanks to some strong defence from Phil Collins, Owen Roberts, Davy Kirkpatrick and Cullen to win the game 19-17 and see them move up to second in the league table. Thanks must go to Jimmy McCoy for taking the team in John West’s absence and the side hope that this performance will serve as a platform for the 2nd XV towards success in their push for promotion from Junior League 4 and in the Forster Cup which has now reached the quarter-final stage.
Two home league games at Donaldson Park this incoming Saturday with the 1st XV welcoming Portadown and the 2nd XV looking to extend their winning sequence against Coleraine 3rd XV. Both games kick-off at 2:30pm.
There will be a Pre-Match Lunch this Saturday prior to the Qualifying One game against Portadown with Bow Belles providing the usual fantastic two-course lunch for £10 getting underway at 1pm. If you would like to go please contact Ian Fleming as soon as possible.
Well done to Regent House and Bangor Grammar who both progressed to the Third Round of this year’s Danske Schools Cup last Saturday where they will meet RBAI and Ballyclare HS respectively.

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