REPORT Virginia RFC U14s v Dromore & v Larne

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Mixed results as U14s bring 2015 to a close with home double header

Virginia U14s played a home double header last Saturday to bring 2015 to a close. The 1st XV welcomed Dromore RFC to The Deerpark on an unseasonably warm morning.
It was obvious from the start that the visitors were a well drilled team, and despite plenty of territory Virginia failed to make an early impact on the scoreboard. The deadlock was finally broken when Adam Sherriff made a great break off the back of a scrum well supported by Robert Lochaden and Callum Finane, Michael McKeon-Boyle picking the ball up from the resulting ruck and driving over for the try. This seemed to knock Dromore, and their agony was doubled straight from the restart, when Cai Walker collected the kick and brushed aside all attempted tackles to go in under the posts, with Aaron Mannion slotting the conversion. The Virginia scrum was again on form, with John Smyth, Jake Sullivan and James Smith putting in a powerful performance against a good Dromore unit. This allowed the home team to continue to dominate possession, resulting in another forwards move this time finished off by Adrian Lynch, and again converted by Aaron. It wasn’t all about the forwards though, as the backs soon got in on the act, firstly with Evan Manning feeding Paddy Gordon for one of his trademark runs to score. Then a superb run from Adam Charters at fly half split the visitors defence, and his offload to Niall Carolan was followed by a brilliant step to end the first half with another try, Aarons conversion making the lead 31-0 at the break.
The bench was emptied for the second half, but the performance levels didn’t drop. Thomas Sheridan slotted in well at hooker, and tested the defence himself with a couple of darting runs. Michael and Cai added a further try apiece, and when Dromore threatened through their dangerous number 8, Ryan Kennedy in particular made a great tackle to keep him contained. The rejigged back line continued to test the opposition defence, and a great move through Conor Nulty, to Jason Henderson joining the line from fullback put David Gibney into space, and he fought his way through to make the final score 46-0. This leaves the team with eight wins from eight and in a great position to defend the Ulster title they won last year.
The 2nd XV welcomed Larne RFC and this was to prove to be a much harder test. The side was much depleted through sickness and injury, and had three players making their debuts on the day, Ryan McGuigan, Callum Caswell, and Robert Ryan all giving a good account of themselves. Virginias cause was not made any easier when they lost the influential Mark Gibney early on, soon finding themselves 17-0 down. But they kept their heads up and continued to put the effort in, with Cathal O’Reilly, Donal Maguire, Cormac Monaghan and Luke Morris all defending as if their lives depended on it. An intercept in his own twenty-two saw Nathan Tobin go the length of the pitch to score, Jake White-Duffy adding the conversion to reduce the deficit. Larne however continued to press the home team, and they replied with a try of their own to make it 22-7 at half time.
The second half would bring more of the same however with the home team simply not able to withstand the stronger physical power of the visitors. Cormac Brown played a great game at scrum half, and John Dolan was a constant threat to their defence with ball in hand, but it wasn’t to be their day with Larne running out 56-7 winners. They go into the Christmas break however still sitting top of the Qualifying League.
Larne also brought their U12s with them for the day, and Virginia U12s put in an excellent performance against the visitors, all the players contributing to a convincing win as they too ended 2015 in style.
The U14s are back in action on Saturday 2nd January, both away from home. The 1st XV make the long trip to face Randalstown RFC, whilst the 2nd XV head to Donegal to face Ballyshannon RFC.

St. Stephens’s Day at the Clubhouse
Come along to the club on St Stephens Day to watch our annual Dr McDonagh Cup senior match kick-off 2.30pm. A great day guaranteed, please support!
Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and a great sporting year in 2016.

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