Kukri Qualifying 2: Donaghadee 69 Londonderry YM 0

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The first opportunity Donaghadee had to test the mettle of their opponents came early, and gave players and spectators an idea of what was to come. A clean line-out possession became a rolling maul that gave clear indication to spectators, players and referee that Donaghadee’s pack is a very formidable unit as they took their opponents up-field at impressive speed. As all present were anticipating a release of the much-vaunted Donaghadee attacking backs, the ball was released to scrum-half Alistair Lockhart and thence to Paul Blewitt. He then confounded all present with the lovely “show-and-go” that he does too rarely and seared over the YM line for a wonderful opening try. Richard Millar obliged with the extra two points for a 7-0 lead.

Donaghadee tried hard to add to their score, but a useful combative defence by the YM players kept the score as it was for a while. When Paul Johnston received the ball out on his right wing in his own half he made sharp in-roads into YM’s half. When he was finally held up, the Dee’s forwards were in close support and recycled it. Chris Schofield muscled his way forward and fed the ball to Millar who went over in the left corner for 12-0. If the No. 8 had any thoughts that he would have been happier to score at a more kickable spot they were not apparent when he shot a huge conversion from the touchline to take Donaghadee to a well-deserved 14-0. Minutes later good quick possession gave Blewitt the opportunity to show his game-reading abilities when he spotted the defenders tearing towards the outside backs and reversed the direction of the attack by turning the ball inside to his scrum-half Lockhart. He then found Craig McCoy on his shoulder and he went over the line for Donaghadee’s third try.

At this stage of the game YM were still full of effort. They did not get as much possession as they would have liked, but when they did mount an attack Donaghadee showed that they could defend as well as they attacked. All the forwards and backs were taking their target men out, with great first-up tackling by flankers Craig McCoy and Chris Hamilton prominent.

The score now 19-0, attack ball soon came Donaghadee’s way again, and time for a different tactic. This was an orthodox bop-bop-bop through Lockhart, Blewitt, Bobby Harpur and Gavin Gordon to Billy Allen tearing up outside him. The full-back’s pace took him partly clear until he relayed the ball on to winger Rory Garnham. He seared onwards until he returned the ball to Allen who took it over the line for a sensational team try and Millar’s kick made it 26-0.

It was not to be long before the scorekeeper was busy again. From an attacking scrum, Lockhart tried a wee dart. Held up, he gave to the ever-present Chris Hamilton. He too was held up but he managed to get the ball back to Lockhart who somehow burrowed his way over the line for 33-0.

When YM kicked the football down into Donaghadee territory full-back Allen opted to run the ball out instead of simply kicking it away. He ran and then passed inside; fortuitously it came back his way and he just had time to feed right wing Johnston. This young man may consider himself to be a scrum-half, but he is no mug on the wing. His searing pace took him through the first attempted tackles, allowing him to run in on a diagonal to go under YM’s posts.

Millar quickly made it 40-0 and Donaghadee, now rampant, immediately set out on another merciless invasion. When big second-row Kyle Morrow got the ball the watchers could see that he was well aware that he was now the only first team regular who had not scored a try this season. The encouragement of his team-mates and the supporters spurred him on, but it also inspired the tacklers, who mobbed him and brought the big man down just short. In spite of the valiant YM tackling, it still resulted in another Dee try when Morrow got the ball to Lockhart for him to go over for another try. At this point the referee decided that 47 points was enough for one half and allowed the players a welcome few minutes’ rest.

Dee v Londonderry YM Photos

In quick succession Donaghadee scored two tries, firstly by the tireless Lockhart and then one that involved Gareth Gordon, Allen and Hamilton before liberating Garnham on his wing. With his pace another try looked fairly straightforward, but the YM full-back showed grim determination and enough raw courage to smash the young Dee man well into touch. Amazingly the referee, commendably right on the spot, saw that the flying winger had twisted his body enough to ground the ball just inside the corner flag-post for another Donaghadee try. Millar, who had been kicking well, just couldn’t quite get the ball between the posts so the scoreboard now read an unbalanced 57-0.

Understandably YM were now a little shell-shocked by Donaghadee’s continual assaults, and of course the home side was rampant. When Number 8 Millar next got the ball after good line-out work from Stuart Hutchinson he was off again on a rampage that eventually freed Garnham, now on the right wing. He took the ball on before giving to Bobby Harpur who took the ball between the posts, Millar’s kick making for a scoreline of 64-0. When Donaghadee next claimed possession a procession of runs from Chris Good, Gavin Gordon, Allen and Garnham gave Lockhart the chance to score his fourth try of the day and make the scoreline 69-0.  At this point the referee called it a day.

Donaghadee: Billy Allen, Paul Johnston, Bobby Harpur, Gavin Gordon, Rory Garnham, Paul Blewitt, Alistair Lockhart: Chris Schofield, Gareth Gordon, Chris Good, Kyle Morrow, Stuart Hutchinson, Craig McCoy, Chris Hamilton, Richard Millar.

Londonderry YM: Graham Brown, Mark Doherty, Marshall Duncan, Jamie Brady, Andy Campbell, Graham Stevenson, Craig Huey,  Richie Baird, Ben Barbour, Andrew Calwell, Chris McCandless, Chris Dunn, Clarke Simpson, Ryan McFall, David Graham

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