Newry I XV on the Brink of Promotion & Exciting Win for Newry II XV:

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Newry Firsts on the Brink of Promotion

With 3 league matches remaining, Newry Firsts are just two points away from a runners-up
position and promotion to Ulster Qualifying league Three for the first time in their history.
Their latest advance in the table was as painless as it could be with a last minute cry-off by
Saturday’s opposition, Ballyshannon RFC from County Donegal. Newry Coach Rhys Botha
expressed disappointment at the failure to field but welcomed the points anyway. “we have three
matches left and we are eager to win them all and take our promotion place. The planning for
next season starts here.”

Exciting Win for Newry 2s

With no First XV match on Saturday, spectators’attention turned towards Newry 2s home league fixture against Lurgan 2s. The Newry men had taken the spoils in the away fixture back in the autumn and a determined Lurgan team turned up at Telford Park fully intending to even things up before the end of the season. On a bitterly cold afternoon Newry outhalf Cathal O’Neill got things under way with a well placed kick to put Newry on the front foot from the start. Twenty minutes of constant Newry attack followed and was finally rewarded when Newry captain, Paul Haughey, went over the whitewash for the opening score of the game. A conversion by Donal Farrell duly followed to complete the score. Lurgan responded mightily and spent the rest of the half camped in the Newry 22 looking for the elusive equalling try. They nearly got it at the brink of half time until hooker John Ryan took a ball against the head in a 5 metre scrum near the Newry line allowing scrum half Farrell to make the relieving kick as the last play of the half.

The second half was a series of attack and counter attack. Newry scorned several try scoring chances by failing to use the overlaps created by their multi-phase attack and gave the ball away in several needless turnovers. After a good start the Newry line-out seemed to fall apart and the city men struggled to get a supply of ball from this aspect of the game. Veteran flanker, Andy
O’Donnell played a blinder at openside and repeatedly cut down the main Lurgan attack weapon, a very large crash ball merchant (with a very vociferous mouth to boot). Lurgan’s frustrations at their failure to score boiled over into violence and punches were thrown in the tight on more than one occasion. The Newry men led by the Moygannon hard man John Collins were well fit to handle such provocation and after a Lurgan player appeared to square up to the referee surprise was expressed by the spectators that no card of any colour was shown to the aggressor. With 10 minutes left on the clock Newry lost their centre Denis Doyle to injury and Lurgan took their chance with a well taken try to bring to gap to within 2 points with 3 minutes to go. In the excitement of the closing seconds calamity struck Newry when Lurgan forced a soft penalty under the Newry posts in the last play of the match. As a confident Lurgan out-half stepped up to the mark the Newry players could only stand under their posts and look on forlornly as victory appeared to be slipping away from them. As the kick was taken the visitors cheered until the vagaries of the wind incredibly carried the ball to the left of the posts and wide. Before the ball had landed and the final whistle had been sounded the cheering was coming from the Newry side who tasted a sweet victory which only seconds before had seemingly been nought but bitter ashes. Final score Newry 7 – Lurgan 5. The result was a deserved one and a credit to the new players who have come up through the club ranks in the last year. Particular credit must go to Cathal O’Neill at half back and Conor O’Neill at full back and also Andy O’Donnell who wound the clock back decades with a man of the match performance at wing forward..

Newry: J Collins, J Ryan, C Best, P McShane, C McNally, A O’Donnell, R Gordon, P Haughey,
D Farrell, C O’Neill, D Armstrong, J McEldowney, D Doyle, S Larkin, C O’Neill.

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