Portadown Rugby Match Reports & Pictures: I, IV & V XV v City Of Derry, Omagh & Clogher Valley also video v Omagh & Interview with Chunka

Portadown Rugby Match Reports & Pictures: I, IV & V XV v City Of Derry, Omagh & Clogher Valley also video v Omagh & Interview with Chunka

PORTADOWN 5XV 12 – 30 CITY OF DERRY 4XV

A first round McCambley Cup fixture that had been on the books since December 11th finally got played under miserable conditions in the Northwest. The Blues cause hadn’t been helped with cry offs and injuries in the run up to the game and as a consequence fielded with only thirteen men reaching fourteen mid-way through the first half – Jamie Haughian answering the SOS call to travel to Derry at short notice. To their credit Portadown more than held their own in the opening exchanges, a typically physical Derry outfit finding the numerically challenged visitors a match in the first up tackling stakes. The overlap was always a threat though and Derry made it count twice in the first twenty minutes to take a 12-0 lead in the fixture. The Blues were getting into promising positions though and a lineout in the opposition 22 provided the perfect platform for Scrum Half Brian Graham to collect and beat his opposite number to the try line. 12-5. The Blues were playing encouraging rugby, albeit, littered with mistakes, which is only to be expected after two months without a game. One such mistake lead to a penalty in front of the posts which the home side converted to leave it 15-5 at the interval.

The second half was not a forty minutes for expansive rugby, instead, the visiting team tried to keep the ball in the forward division where they had a dominance over their opponents. Indeed, regulars like Alan Kilpatrick, Norman Stinson and Ryan Taylor put in an immense amount of work to drive Portadown on. Unfortunately, no matter the work effort, the Blues were always a man down and Derry exploited this gap at every opportunity to score an additional three tries out wide. The Blues did score another of their own when Norman Stinson capitalised on good work by Brian Graham and there were other chances to reduce the deficit, but in reality, there was only ever one team advancing to the next round of the McCambley Cup. Best players on the day were Alan Kilpatrick and Norman Stinson, a big thanks to everyone who travelled to fulfil this fixture. Portadown now go into the draw for the Butler Shield and after a few weeks training coupled with the return of a few regulars from injury there is no reason why the 5XV can’t push for honours in the competition.

PORTADOWN 4XV 31 – 13 CLOGHER VALLEY 3XV

Like every other Portadown side the 4th XV hadn’t crossed the whitewash in nigh on seven weeks but it certainly didn’t show as they ruthlessly disposed of the Clogher Valley challenge in the first round of the Forster Cup. It was a solid Portadown pack that laid the foundation for this victory, playing against the wind in the first half it was up the jumper stuff as rolling mauls and rucks took precedence over expansive running play. It was testimony to the Blues’ work rate that they led 17-8 at the break despite the stiff breeze through tries from Johnny Stewart and Mo Duffy. 17-8 at half time.

The Portadown defence was marshaled superbly in the first half by team stalwart Andrew Matchett and the same was true in the second half as Clogher Valley attempted to overturn the visitors lead, but Portadown now had the wind at their backs and were playing with the confidence of a team intent on victory. Tries from Keith McGuinness and James Brenchley after periods of forward dominance ensured this was going to be the case and left the final score 31-13. There were so many positives to be taken from this game not least the return of Andy Forster after three months out with injury and Andrew Cassells putting in an immense amount of work in what was his first game of the season. The 4th XV are now looking forward to the next round and on this evidence will certainly be a match for anyone.

PORTADOWN 0 – 20 OMAGH

CLICK HERE for 40 photos from Omagh I XV V Portadown I XV, you can view them as a slideshow or individually, pictures are free to download.

Portadown fell at the first hurdle in the Towns Cup, succumbing to defeat against an Omagh side who ply their trade a league below them. Omagh opted to play into the very considerable wind for the first half and their unconventional approach to winning the coin toss was mirrored on the pitch as they more than matched what was a strong Portadown side. The Blues had a lot of possession in the opening exchanges but had too much either turned over or given away cheaply. The penalty count was 5-1 against the visitors in the first ten minutes and they were fortunate to only concede three points as a result. In contrast the home side were very disciplined in defence and when Portadown did get a head of steam the Omagh bodies were able to cope with the pressure, indeed as time wore on in the first half Omagh players grew in confidence. Portadown – playing with the wind – were bereft of ideas and couldn’t find a breakthrough. Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when the Omagh scrum half broke from the side of a ruck to score under the posts leaving the score 10-0 at half time, just reward for the amount of work the home pack was getting through in setting up field position.

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Perhaps taking their lead from the home sides work ethic, Portadown upped their game in the second period, Dale Black and John McGuckin both made notable line breaks but found the Omagh try line unbreachable. Now playing into the wind chances were few and far between, it was Omagh who were on the front foot for most of the half and with ten minutes to go they sealed the win – a ball ripped from a Blues player in midfield gifted an easy seven points. 17-0. Portadown should have had a consolation score but slow play at the base of the ruck – as was so often the case – saw the chance pass them by and with it any hope of making a mark on the scoreboard. A long range penalty from the home number ten left the final score 20-0. This was certainly an unexpected result for the Blues in what was really their first competitive game since the end of October. Fitness levels and work rate certainly weren’t anywhere near the standard expected but the management team are hopeful this can be addressed. On a positive note the game marked the return from injury of Gareth McCoy and Phillip Jackson, two players who will play a big part in the coming months as league action comes back into focus.