REPORT Donaghadee 2nd XV 0 Randalstown 2nd XV 6 (Forster Cup Semi-Final)

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Pic Credit Dave Pettard Photography

Donaghadee 2nd XV 0 Randalstown 2nd XV 6 (Forster Cup Semi-Final)
Not all great games are high scoring and this was certainly the case at Donaghadee on Saturday afternoon. The teams have already met twice in the league and were only separated by a mere 7 points, the ‘Town men emerging victorious on both occasions, so it was always going be the tightest of encounters.
It was a pleasant afternoon for a game of rugby and from the off both teams enjoyed spells of possession and went all out to test their opponents. ‘Town started to look slightly the sharper with Orr, Murray and Winter hungry to attack but then a miss move saw them concede a lot of ground and end up under intense pressure from Donaghadee deep in their own territory. Thankfully the defence held firm and Murray was able to clear the lines and relieve the pressure.
Then came Randalstown’s chance to dominate some phases of play, with Hume, Hurrell and Michael Hamilton in particular catching the eye. Their efforts were rewarded with a very kickable penalty which Conor Murray stepped up to convert and give ‘Town a slender 3-0 advantage with a quarter of an hour played.
‘Town had another potential scoring opportunity shortly after this but a loose pass just didn’t go to hand and gave the home side the scrum. Such was the domination of the ‘Town pack a scrum wasn’t a huge advantage to Donaghadee although they managed to get a penalty as the half drew to a close but the kick drifted wide.
At the start of the second half the Donaghadee winger sustained a hefty knock and had to retire from the fray. Happily he was back on his feet before the end of the match. Again ‘Town were attacking in waves and Mark Paine was unlucky not to run in. Then disaster almost struck for ‘Town as the Donaghadee number 12 read a pass and intercepted to tear up the park. Thankfully prop Simon Adams had the pace to catch him and save what looked like a certain score.
It was starting to become a bit of a tale of knock ons and dropped passes but the ‘Town defence was absolutely immense and Murray and Orr were able to bring play back up the park. When Donaghadee gathered Vernon Thom, deputising for Ryan McGarry, bundled his man into touch to return the advantage to ‘Town. Thom had an inspired afternoon, especially under the high balls that came his way with some frequency, and was unlucky not to get his name on the score sheet.
Donaghadee were starting to look visibly tired and their medic was a regular feature on the pitch, interfering at one point with a ‘Town move down the right flank as he prevented Thom from gathering ball and running in.
Then there was a real spark from ‘Town as the clock ticked down. Yet another scrum against the head gave Donnelly a bit of space and he raced away. Donaghadee managed to stop him short and clear to touch, but the attacking lineout at close quarters saw the visitors rumble towards the line and Liam Hurrell touched down. The ref was unsighted so the try was not awarded. Still the home side attempted to attack, a lot of it down the middle by their skilful number 12 but ‘Town clung on and Goodrich stole a lineout ball at a crucial moment deep in Donaghadee territory to hand Turner a drop goal attempt which sailed over.
Randalstown prayers were for the final whistle at this stage but they had to play out the remaining few minutes defending sternly until that sweet shrill.
At the beginning of the season Captain Hyndman certainly harboured ambitions of a good run in the Forster Cup but no-one could have contemplated that this young team would win the league, so far unbeaten, and secure a spot in the cup final against Ballymena 5ths on 18th April. The ambition and achievement goalposts have been moved.
Manager Sloane was delighted to see a large travelling support this week and acknowledged the efforts of many, from the coaching Staff of Gary Longwell and Alistair Strange, the players for their dedication to training and playing and to his captain, Sammy Hyndman, who has proved an immense leader on the pitch, as part and parcel of this success.
On the afternoon there was some debate about the Randalstown man of the match with manager and skipper having differing opinions. Ben Winter and Chris Donnelly will share the spoils this week. The pack as a unit had a very successful afternoon as they repeatedly caused problems for their bulkier opponents.
Next Saturday the 2nds have no game while the 1st XV travel to Enniskillen in the league.
The club website is being updated and should be live again soon with details of the remaining games of the season and events and activities around the club.
A pre-match lunch is scheduled for 28th March when the 1st XV host Omagh – this is the annual ladies day lunch. As usual reserve your place with Adie Johnston.
A bus will be organised for supporters on the day of the Forster Cup Final (kick off is 1pm) – details will be available shortly on the website and facebook page.

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