Dungannon RFC Notes: I XV 26 v Ards RFC I XV 6:
The sun was shining at Hamilton Park as Dungannon secured a four try bonus point win in the Ulster Senior League. However they were made to work hard for most of the game but indiscipline from the home side cost them two players to the bin and allowed the visitors to get over the line for that bonus and five league points.
Playing into the breeze in the first half Dungannon started brightly and went close on a few ocassions but it was the home side who managed to counter attack from a turnover and almost went the length of the field for the opening score but the referee called them back for a forward pass. This spurred the Dungannon backs into life and after a good break from centre Paul Magee he linked well with outhalf Sean Conway who fed Mark Faloon and eventually Peter Cashel who chipped into the corner and touched down for the try. The conversion was just wide from Gareth McGonigle on 14 minutes. The Ards outhalf then made the most of the breeze for much of the first half, punishing the visitors with a series of long kicks into the Dungannon 22. The pressure paid off as they were awarded two penalties in quick succession which were duly slotted by the Ards winger to give them a 6-5 lead after the half hour mark. Dungannon came back into the game after this period and towards the end of the half started to lift the intensity of the game. It was a quick tap from Paul Jackson in the Ards 22 which caught the home side unawares and he fed James McMahon who sprinted into the corner for the second try of the game. The conversion was good from Gareth McGonigle to make 6-12 on the half time whistle.
With the breeze and a few changes in the second half Dungannon started brightly and began to stamp their authority on the game and force Ards to infringe. A series of good carries from Paul Jackson and Plunkett McCallan sucked in the defence and swift delivery at the base led the visitors to play the best rugby of the day. Dungannon made the most of this pressure and from a scrum on the home sides 22, more strong running from Paul Magee allowed him to slip the pass to centre partner Faloon who had the simple task of running over the line from short range. He made the conversion easy for Gareth McGonigle 6-19. Dungannon continued to pressure and went close on a number of ocassions before the referee had his fill and sent the Ards flanker to the bin and quickly followed was their hooker. From the second of these penalties Dungannon took a quick tap inside the 22 which went to Plunkett McCallan who carried a number of defenders over the line to touch down under the posts. Gareth McGonigle again added the simple conversion to make it 6-26 after 65mins. The game began to get scrappy towards the end but Dungannon’s line was never really troubled due to good defensive efforts from the outside backs in particular. The referee seemed to blow the final whistle slightly early but the game was certainly over as a contest. This was a tricky tie given the changes from last week but the second half produced some good rugby from the visitors with Paul Jackson and Plunkett McCallan in particular to the fore and James McMahon having his usual barnstorming runs. Next week brings the second round of the Senior Cup and a home tie against Rainey. Dungannon: Mark O.Shea, Peter Cashel, Mark Faloon, Paul Magee, Darren Simpson, Sean Conway, Gareth McGonigle, James McMahon, Jeremy Turkington, Derek Hall, Plunkett McCallan, Michael Dunleavy, Ben Howard, Paul Jackson, Steven Sinnamon. Subs: Gary Maxwell, Phil Whyte, David Spence, Jerome McClure
Coleraine 2 80 – 5 Dungannon 3XV
This was almost the proverbial game of two halves although Dungannon lost both halves. By halftime it was 61-0 to a rampant Coleraine but a stirring third quarter saw Dungannon show spirit and commitment. This may have been the affect of David Irwin’s half time team talk. Farmer David could not afford to tolerate any non performing stock at home and he certainly had plenty of non performers in the first half at Rugby Avenue. A spirited try and a good third quarter at least proved that the visitors could compete and gave them some self respect, this against a fine Coleraine side and current Crawford Cup holders. The first half started abysmally with Coleraine’s Greg Neilly going over for a try in the third minute. Cameron Jinks converted. This try was followed by eight more first half tries from O’Hara, Browne (2), Callaghan, O’Hara again, Jinks, Teacy and skipper Paul Shiels. Jinks missed one conversion. Every score line tells a tale, Dungannon were totally demoralised. Beaten up front and taken apart by a backline now full of confidence. Paddy Power would probably have offered odds on that Coleraine would score the century before the end.
The start of the second half was a total revelation, with the experienced players in the pack, Baird, Donaghy and McCammon showing grit and determination. This acted as a signal for rest of the players who literally got stuck in and upped their game. Gareth McMullan and Hamish McGibbon won good line out ball. Ally Moore drove forward but most pleasingly the newcomers Aidan Hanna and Daniel Cechowicz made a very good contributing in the second half especially with their ball carrying and showing good awareness of how to protect possession. After a sustained assault on the Coleraine line countered by some resolute defence the offence was successful and Jeremy Baird forced his way over. Jonny Hagan was just wide with the conversion. From the restart Gannon again took the game to Coleraine with thumping runs from Stephen Donaghy, Philip McCammon and skipper Gareth McMullan but it was the backs that came more into the game. It was Steven Liggett and Andrew Mills who impressed; this will give them great confidence as they are both talented players who have been out of the game since school days. Dynamo Boyle and another debutant Lorcan McGrath plus the gritty Nial Wilson were relishing the encounter and great credit to Nial he did not once give Jonny Hagan a hospital pass but took the punishment himself. Timothy Potter saved two certain scores, one at the expense of a penalty although he contended afterwards that the Coleraine player dived! Jonathan Hagan showed that he can get a backline moving and manage the game. He will have benefitted from the game time. Overall a very pleasing third quarter. Dungannon missed a try and allowed Coleraine cleared their lines. When Coleraine got back into the game they went on to score three more tries through Roxborough, Shiels converted by Jinks and a self converted try from No 8 McNay. It might have been a case of, “We was beat,” and well beaten too but that third quarter showed what the boys are capable of although a bit of fitness training would not go amiss. Team: Andrew Mills. Adam Boyle, Timothy Potter, Steven Liggett, Lorcan McGrath. Jonathan Hagan, Nial Wilson. Ally Moore, Daniel Cechowicz, Aidan Hanna. Gareth McMullan, Hamish McGibbon. Jeremy Baird, Philip McCammon, Stephen Donaghy.