COLERAINE 43 DONAGHADEE 8
The Dee’s selection woes continued on Saturday with Mark Cooper unable to play in the centre due to an injury picked up against Lisburn last week, Andy McGrugan unavailable and then on, the morning of the game, influential back rower Chris Hamilton succumbed to sickness. Jack Cooke moved into the back row to replace Hamilton at No. 8 and Tommy Scullion moved up from the bench into the second row whilst Davy Kirkpatrick replaced Cooper with Chris Scott moving to the left wing to replace McGrugan and Chade Gelderman replacing Scott at No. 9.
The horrendous weather suffered in the morning lifted in time for kick-off and the Dee were soon on the attack. Coleraine, however, turned over possession and slick handling from the home backline allowed the left wing to slip in for the first try of the day. With the extras added the Dee were now down by seven points with ten minutes played. The away side immediately went back on the attack through the driving play of Cooke and Sam Ingham before being awarded a penalty which Paul Blewitt confidently stroked between the posts. As far as the first half was concerned however this was to be the best that it got for the Dee – up front the pack were on a par with the impressive Coleraine eight but the home side then decided to open the game up to their skilful and pacy backline who scored two converted tries in quick succession to take the score to 21-3. The Dee then attacked the home line at this stage and with men over looked that they were going to claw back a score when the final pass was intercepted on the twenty two by the Coleraine centre who sprinted almost the length of the pitch for the bonus point try which was converted. This score had an utterly deflating effect on the Dee side and another unconverted try was leaked during a strangely long injury time period.
For the first thirty minutes of the second half the Dee played their best rugby of the day with Cooke, Ingham, Chris Good, Matthew Johnston and Gareth Gordon prominent in the forward exchanges whilst flanker Matthew Stockton was causing issues for the home defence with his pace and power on the break. The Dee’s lineout, as it did all day, was operating exceptionally well and Coleraine were now under pressure in the scrums where Gareth Deering was evidencing his week to week improvement at loose-head. Sustained pressure on the home line led to the pack driving over for an unconverted try from Cooke. The Dee continued to press through a surfeit of hard-won possession but unfortunately the slow ball reaching Blewitt at No. 10 allowed the Coleraine defence to stymie any potential scoring opportunities. As the clock ran down the Dee went into full “catch-up” rugby mode, and as is more often than not the case in these circumstances, were undone on the break by the slick Coleraine backline offence who scored two unconverted tries in the last ten minutes which perhaps gave a slightly flattering gloss to the final score line.
A bad day at the office then for the Dee but the positives are there in the form of the immense influence that Cooke brings to each game, the ever improving performances of Ingham, Deering and Johnston, the impact of the return of Stockton to the side and the experience and leadership of Gordon and Good up front and Blewitt, Andy Todd and Bill Allen in the backs. With the hope that many of those absent yesterday being available next week for the home game against Enniskillen the side will write this off as one of those days where absolutely nothing went to plan and will look forward to getting their season back on track in the familiar surroundings of Donaldson Park.
OTHER RESULTS AND FIXTURES
Unfortunately the 2nd XV game due to be played at home versus Portadown 2nd XV was rained off last Saturday and the 3rd XV game was postponed as well as their opponents, Armagh 4th XV had to play a rearranged McCambley Cup game. This week the 1st XV entertain Enniskillen at Donaldson Park whilst the 2nd XV travel to Kilraughts Road to meet their Ballymoney counterparts. Both games kick-off at 2:30pm. After a concession by the IRFU (Ulster Branch) in terms of all league games due to be played on Boxing Day Randalstown and Donaghadee have decided to postpone both games for 1st & 2nd XVs due to be played on 26/12/2015. The 1st XV game will now be played on Saturday 13/02/2016 and the 2nd Xv game on Saturday 09/04/2016.
PRE-MATCH CHRISTMAS LUNCH
As noted above Donaghadee 1st XV welcome Enniskillen 1st XV to Donaldson Park this Saturday for the last home league game of the year and there will a two course lunch at a cost of £10 catered by Bow Belles. Festivities commence at 1pm and a few places remain so please contact Bertie Bell as soon as possible if you like to attend.