Portadown Rugby Club Notes: I, II, U17 & V XV v Donaghadee Rugby, Bangor Rugby, Cavan Rugby & Banbridge Rugby: Reports + Pictures of the II XV

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Portadown U17’s 18 – 10 Cavan U17’s
Portadown under 17s kicked off the 2011/12 season with a long trip away to Cavan, not an ideal start to any season but the young side took it in their stride and the enthusiasm to play a competitive match after 6 weeks of pre-season training was clear to see. From the kick-off Portadown took control of this game, in spite of having five first choice players not available the young side took the game to their opponents in every department. Up front Aaron Winter lead the pack and using the pick and drive early on the forwards identified a weakness in the Cavan defence and so were able to provide the backs with a great attacking platform. Calvin Chambers was the star of the backline and he opened the scoring with a great run after only 7 minutes touching down his first try at this level. Early dominance however lead to the first season lesson, complacency. Taking the foot off the pedal when the opposition was on the back foot is rookie error 101 and after Cavan got a lifeline penalty Portadown looked to be doubting themselves until Aaron Winter stepped forward and showed his experience at this level and went back to the the formula which was working so well early on, pick and drive time and time again leading to ‘Big Shirley’ Winter touching down himself to leave the halftime score at 3-10

The second half played out much the same with Portadown in total control, Christian Cowan playing out of position had a great game at fly half and slotted home a penalty 10 minutes into the second half. Centre Calvin Chambers who had been a handful for the Cavan defence all day rounded off a superb debut with his second try, after some great handling from the back line Calvin received the ball out wide and with still a lot of work to do cut back inside twice before powering through a last desperate tackle from the Cavan fullback. With 15 minutes still remaining Portadown lost full back Johnny Gilbert with a neck injury (thankfully not too serious) and played the remainder with 14 men. In injury time Cavan gave a desperate kick and chase and with no recognisable full back Portadown failed to clear the ball, Cavan managed to salvage a late try to leave the final score 10-18 in favour of the visitors.
Man of the match was Aaron ‘shirley’ Winter.

After an encouraging pre-season the Blues went into their first competitive fixture full of confidence but were left empty handed in Donaghadee. Despite a bright opening in which Mal Allister scored to put the Blues 5-0 up, Portadown couldn’t quite match the intensity of the home side and were struggling well before losing Olly Montels to a knee injury. Taking advantage of the reshuffle, Donaghadee had a blistering ten minutes, scoring two tries and two penalties to leave the score 18-5. The Blues did manage to convert a penalty through the boot of Chris Goodland but their error-strewn performance continued and the home side piled on the pressure scoring a further two tries and a penalty before the break. 35-8 at half-time.

Donaghadee 1XV 56 – 13 Portadown 1XV

The blues did have a better start to the second half, putting pressure on the opposition line and opting for lineouts rather than posts off awarded penalties but their inability to finish when in promising positions was frustrating. Equally frustrating was the rising body count with Paul Melville leaving the field after a knock to the shoulder. The arrears could have been reduced if Chris Cousens had finished off a move he had started in his own 22 by intercepting a pass, but the opposition winger recovered well and bundled him into touch metres short of the line. This was as close as the blues were to get, Donaghadee able to carve open the defence at will, scoring another try after multiple phase ball. 42-8. Cousens did cross for a score to bring the Portadown tally up to thirteen but after losing Stuart Lamb to injury and playing the remainder of the game with fourteen men the Blues conceded further scores to leave the result beyond doubt. 56-13.

Bangor 2XV 8 – 17 Portadown 3XV


Geoff Caldwell’s side took about ten minutes to realise they had started their first game of the season as they allowed Bangor fullback and Portadown old boy Andrew Brisbane in for the first score of the afternoon. That score coupled with the concession of some soft penalties gifted the home side an 8-0 lead. The charity ended there and the Blues re-grouped. A try by centre Andy Graham just reward for an industrious half of rugby which left the score 8-5.

Portadown were more streetwise in the second period underpinned by a strong work ethic from the pack, particularly Brian Tedford and Ashley Pepper, but it was scrum half Colly Robb to the fore with two well worked tries. His first, a great solo effort after taking a quick penalty and the second off the back of a scrum after good work by Gareth Bicker. Final score was 17-8, a pleasing start to the campaign which continues next week with an away trip to Limavady.

Man of the match Colly Robb

Portadown 5XV 24 – 19 Banbridge 5XV

The 5xv got their season off to a winning start with a 24-19 win over a youthful Banbridge side. The Blues started brightly and were 7-0 up inside five minutes when fullback Des Henderson went over out wide after a period of sustained pressure. There was no let up and the Portadown forward unit were systematically destroying the visitors with their physicality, indeed the next two scores came from impressive forward play, Richard Matchett and new-comer Nathan Stewart the scorers. 17-0 up at the break.

Banbridge were never going to accept defeat and slowly they fought their back into the match, two tries by their industrious number thirteen had sown the seed of doubt and with fifteen minutes to go there were only five points in the game. 17-12. Andrew Matchett, impressive with the boot all day, settled the home sides’ nerves though with a try from a quick tap and go penalty to leave it 24-12 and despite a Banbridge try on the final whistle it was clear the Blues deserved this win.

Men of the match, Chris Jones and Nathan Stewart.

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