Nutty Krust Magic! CLOGHER VALLEY RFC U19 XV – SCORE SCORES SCORE!!!!!!! Tries, + Interview with Coach Stephen Bothwell

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Clogher Valley U19’s 28 vs 12 Lurgan U19’s
Nutty Crust Floodlit Cup

U19’s comfortable win to start Nutty Crust campaign

Clogher Valley U19’s 28 Lurgan U19’s 12

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On a wet, cold and miserable evening a handful of brave, (foolhardy!!), spectators braved the conditions at Portadown for this first round Nutty Crust Cup tie. This was the first occasion that Valley had entered a team since the reformation of the U19’s only two seasons ago, showing again the strength in depth being developed in Valley Youth rugby since.
From the start Valley were always on the offensive with forwards recycling the ball well and the backs probing for space. However, as was to be for the remainder of the game, Valley were continually dropping the greasy ball when in good positions. Even allowing for the conditions Valley’s handling was poor. Rather than play the simple pass Valley were trying to play adventurous running rugby with the consequence that passes were difficult to take in the conditions and were invariably dropped.
Despite this Valley maintained momentum by taking a number of balls against the head in the scrum and with some astute kicking from out half Armstrong pegged Lurgan back in their 22. After 9mins a series of drives from the pack, following a well won line out by McKenna, saw the ball released to Armstrong who drove over under the posts for the first try that he then converted. From the restart Valley maintained the pressure. Lurgan were reeling as they could not get their hands on the ball and when they did they were disrupted by the aggressive Valley defensive effort. The Valley grip on the game was such that they declined a series of kickable penalties. After 24mins a quickly taken penalty by Armstrong, in front of the posts saw Treanor, impressive throughout, run an impeccable inside line to crash over for the second try. This was then converted by Armstrong to leave Valley comfortably ahead 14-0.
As so often this season Valley then went to sleep and started to try to play cavalier type rugby. This allowed Lurgan to regroup and their strong running forwards and backs combined to make large inroads into the Valley 22. Lurgan were helped by the number of penalties Valley were giving away and by some complacent tackling from the Valley defence. A defining moment for the game arrived on the stroke of half time. Lurgan had been held up on the line several times and Valley were hanging on when a superb tackle by Stafford under the posts stopped a certain try. As well as the tackle he was quickly to his feet to isolate the ball carrier who was then penalized for holding on. Stafford quickly took the penalty and ran through the retreating Lurgan side to release Turner in support. He kicked deep into the Lurgan 22 but unfortunately another supporting Valley player was penalized for being in front of the kick when a try seemed certain.
After half time, where Valley had lost the influential Dougan with an eye injury, they returned to the attack and pressed the Lurgan line. From a ruck in front of the posts scrum half Ellis threw a long pass to Armstrong who went over for another try. Again he converted to leave Valley well ahead at 21-0. Valley then relaxed again and allowed Lurgan, who seemed able to master the handling of the ball in the conditions much better than Valley throughout the game, to exert some territorial pressure. However Stafford again “turned” the game after 60 minutes. His fine tackle on his own 10 metre line not only stopped the Lurgan attack but released the ball so that Armstrong was able to hack through the Lurgan supporting line. Armstrong’s speed then saw him hack forward again and then win the race for another touchdown which he then converted again for 23 of the Valley 28 point’s advantage.
The game was over as a contest but Lurgan to their credit never gave up. They continued to play their effective brand of rugby and after 68 minutes managed to drive over for a converted try to narrow the deficient. The game then petered out with injuries and substitutions but in the last minute the Lurgan winger broke three poor Valley tackles to score in the corner to leave the final result 28-12 to Valley.
For Valley in the forwards Keenan, Donnelly and Treanor had excellent games whilst in the backs the pick were Stafford and Armstrong
The Valley coaches will have been happy with the result, if not with some aspects of play. However they know that the Valley side can lift their performance for the first League play off game against Malone at Shorts rugby club at 11.30 on Saturday.

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