Portadown Rugby Club notes: I, II & IV XV v Coleraine Rugby, III XV v Larne Rugby

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COLERAINE 1XV 8 – 3 PORTADOWN 1XV

An away game to Coleraine is always a tricky fixture but the Blues hadn’t lost a league game all season and were understandably upbeat about their chances in the Northwest. Playing into a stiff breeze in the first half, Portadown were dominant, bossing scrums, lineouts and possession, but it’s on the scoreboard where the real damage is done and Portadown just couldn’t make it tick. John McGuckin missed a penalty in front of goal and was made to rue it all the more when Coleraine converted an attempt shortly after for a 3-0 lead. It’s not as if the Blues didn’t have chances, a clearance kick from Dermy O’Kane was well chased up and collected by Edgar and when awarded a penalty for an infringement in the tackle the visitors construed to kick the ball dead. Despite some questionable decision making, Portadown were on the front foot and Dale Black was next to take the game to the home side, making great ground before being tackled. A Coleraine player was yellow carded from the resultant ruck – McGuckin knocked over the penalty – and the Blues were now playing against fourteen men for the remainder of the half. Despite their numerical advantage Portadown just couldn’t breach the Coleraine defence. Infact it could have been the home side leading at half-time, only for the crossbar to thwart a long range effort. 3-3 at the half-time whistle.

The second half was a different affair, restored to their full compliment, Coleraine were now very much on top and dominant in both possession and territory. Portadown’s attacks were rare, and littered with mistakes or bad decision making. Indeed it was from a Portadown attack that Coleraine scored their only try. The Blues were inexplicably turned over deep in attacking mode. The home side put the ball through twelve phases before sending their winger over in the corner for an 8-3 lead. Portadown almost responded immediately but Dermy O’Kane knocked on when well placed. The Blues, not wanting to surrender their unbeaten league record, tried manfully to overhaul their opponents lead. Great runs by both Dale Black and John McGuckin were stopped agonisingly short as the Coleraine scramble defence kept their line intact. In the dying seconds the Blues kicked into the corner to launch one last assault on the line but they were penalized for truck and trailer and with that the chance was gone. Final score 8-3.

COLERAINE 2XV 27 – 37 PORTADOWN 2XV

The 2nds got their season back on track with a 37-27 win over an in form Coleraine 2nd XV. Portadown started, well playing into the breeze, and ran through several phases of posession which culminated in a fine solo try for No. 10 Chris Goodland who converted his own score. As expected Coleraine came back and used the wind well to command field position for long periods of the half. During this period they scored a try and 4 penalties. Portadown outside half Goodland landed another penalty to keep Portadown in touch – 17-10 down at the break.

The second half started with Goodland kicking another penalty to bring the Blues to within 4 points. Again Coleraine rallied and scored another try under the posts which was converted to see them move into a 24-13 lead. This spurred Portadown into action and saw them put together their best sustained period of rugby of the season to date. Starting with a Dean Hardy interception on half way, which saw him sprint to the line to touch down under the posts. The Ports piled on more pressure which led to a penalty close to the Coleraine line, the ever alert Skipper Jonny Hampton tapped and darted between the posts for another converted touch down. Coleraine kept coming at the ports but an period of stoic defence limited them to a single penalty. With the score at 30-27 the home side really turned on the style. A move which saw the ball pass through virtually every players hands should have lead to a wonderful score only to be pulled back as the final pass was deemed forward. Not to be put off Portadown continued to press and as full time approached a grubber kick from Goodland was collected by the skipper to nip in for his second touch down of the game. Goodland stepped up and from wide on the touch line capped an excellent personal performance by slotting over the kick, bringing his personal points tally to 22 and sealing the win for the home team.

It was an excellent all round performance from the seconds and puts down a marker for a fortnights time when they travel to Coleraine for a Crawford Cup quarter final showdown.

PORTADOWN 3XV 13 – 17 LARNE 2XV

Geoff Caldwell’s Thirds have been unlucky of late, losing games by the tightest of margins, and Saturday’s fixture against Larne followed a depressingly familiar pattern. The Blues played well into the wind during the first half but found themselves 17-3 down at half-time and chasing the game. Chase the game they did though and a try by young centre Stevie Chapman brought the Blues right back into contention. Now playing much better with the wind, Portadown were unfortunate to suffer the loss of second row Keith Boyce through injury. A penalty by out-half Alan Robinson kept the scoreboard ticking over for the Blues and brought them within four points of their opponents but Larne held on for a well deserved 17-13 win. Despite the reversal there were a few positives to take from the game not least the performance of young Mark Beggs at scrum half and the team as a whole after going a man down. Losing by the odd score is a familiar story now for the thirds and next weeks game at home to fellow strugglers Bangor offers the perfect opportunity to re-write the script.

PORTADOWN 4XV 21 – 5 COLERAINE 4XV

Portadown 4xv kept their good run of form going with a home win against Coleraine on Saturday. It was a scrappy first half with neither side particularly impressing but a Neil Biker penalty was enough to give the Blues a 3-0 lead at the break. Coleraine had been reduced to fourteen men just before the interval, an unfortunate injury robbing them of their outhalf, and Portadown took full advantage in the second period. The Blues were a much more cohesive unit now, strong lines of running and superb offloading in the tackle led to Stephen Quinns try. The hooker showing a neat turn of pace to out run the cover for a well-worked team score. 10-0. Another two penalties from Bicker pushed the Blues into a comfortable 16-0 lead before Coleraine scored a breakaway try of their own. It was a short-lived comeback however, Portadown team captain Andrew Gilpin pushed over from a lineout on the 22 to seal the win. The final score was 21-5 to the Blues. Impressive on the day were Adam Hendon and Robert Morton for their overall workrate. This game also marked the return of Phil Clarke, his first game since breaking his leg in October.

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