REPORTS Carrick 2 v Banbridge 3s & Carrick 4s v Coleraine 3s

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Carrick 2s v Banbridge 3s (a)
Carrick 2’s travelled to Rifle Park, Banbridge on Saturday looking for a bonus point win that would keep their league title aspirations on track. Following a comfortable win in the meeting of the 2 earlier in the season Carrick travelled with high hopes of doing just that. From the kick off Carrick realised that this time the encounter would be very different from their previous match up, ferocious Banbridge defence rebuked numerous Carrick one up runners and after 5 phases of play Carrick found themselves still firmly entrenched in their own half, with the stiff breeze and uphill pitch both making an exit difficult to manufacture. For all of Banbridge’s possession and territory in the opening 20 minutes their only point scoring opportunity fell to their scrumhalf who had a penalty kick 15m in from the left hand touch and just outside the 22. What a kick he produced, a shocking spiral curling effort, fair play to Kris “the baby faced assassin” Berry who must have been the only Carrick player without tears of laughter in his eyes as he caught it 12 metres from his own line and 15 m from the right hand touch and straight away launched a counter attack.
Carrick’s defence was outstanding in the opening quarter, attack after attack was repelled with aggressive first up tackles, Keith “Braveheart” McNeil made some brutal bone shattering hits and that man Jack “the terrier” Millar was again immense not just making hits but time after time driving airborne attackers back from whence they came and then straight up looking for his next victim. James “dump truck” Graham also got in on the act making big hits around the fringes, one of which saw him injure a shoulder and be forced to rest it for the remainder of the first half. Little did we know how this would impact the scrum, an instant destabilising effect mysteriously came over both packs, an aura of inebriation was taking hold, what was the cause…. “dump truck’s” replacement…. Joel “the juice head” Bell whose breath suggested that the night before hadn’t been as subdued as the rest of his teammates’.
When Carrick secured turnover ball they did their best to progress up the hill, both Kenny “the wee general” Topping and David “the quiet man” Carse kicking behind the Banbridge back 3 and encouraging them to attack from deep which they did to varying degrees of success. When Banbridge strayed offside after one such foray forward “Wee Sam” pushed Carrick into Banbridge territory, a predetermined lineout and set move saw Carrick advance into the opposition 22 and the visitors were forced to concede a penalty. Skipper Curtis “the aggressor” Rea pointed at the sticks and that’s exactly where “wee Sam” struck the ball on 20 mins to give Carrick the lead.
Buoyed by that, Carrick quickly progressed into the opposition half following a commanding kick off take by “Braveheart” and charging drives by Davy “big John Eales” Ferris and Jonny “look at me I’m a rugby league international” Mooney saw Carrick advance further. From a scrum on the Banbridge 10m line “the aggressor” picked and went right, he found “the wee general” who in turn shipped on to “Wee Sam” then followed a chuckle brothers move by him and Kyle “the whippet” Jordan… to me, to you, to me…all the time defenders left clawing at air as the 2 created a magnificent try finished off by “Wee Sam” 5m to the right of the posts. He then converted his own try. Half time score: “Wee Sam” 10 Banbridge 0
A rousing motivational team talk was delivered at half time by “Braveheart”, all of the boys listened intently, the management agreed whole heartedly with every word, and when he had finished there was an eerie, silent consensus and bewilderment …….. not one person had understood a single thing…… but we all knew he meant well!!
After what had been an impressive first half display by the opposition, the Carrick management knew the bonus point win was going to be a tough ask however turning around, playing downhill and with the wind in second half, territory was going to be the key. The “quiet man” and the “wee general” managed the second half superbly, at every opportunity they pinned Banbridge back and kept Carrick on the front foot. When Banbridge punted back these kicks were returned with interest either with boot or on foot, notably Marcus “Boom Boom” Brush fielded kicks well and returned them with pace and enterprise.
The opening half of the second period was played mostly in the “Bann” half, big carries from “Braveheart” and Robbie “Sat Nav” Williams kept pressure on the opposition defence. 10 minutes into the second half after great work in the loose from Richard “great things come in small packages” Higgins (who hassled and harried Banbridge in the loose and at the breakdown all afternoon) pressure led to Carrick being awarded a scrum 7m from the Banbridge line 15m from the right hand touchline. A secure scrum allowed Nathan “G Man” Greenwood to pick and go right, for the second week running he found defenders falling for his dummies and for the second week running he took full advantage, scoring 5m from touch on the right and carrying a couple of defenders on his back as he did so. “Wee Sam” narrowly missed the conversion attempt from wide out.
The second half continued with Carrick applying pressure on their host’s defence, both forwards and backs got in on the act with the “quiet man” taking flat ball and supplying one handed offloads to his three quarters and forward support runners who pounded the Banbridge tacklers in search of their bonus point target. Michael “hard as nails” Black, Shaun “flying Scotsman” Hardie, “juicehead” and the “Baby faced Assassin” all made strong territorial gains with ball in hand. After one such run with support gone AWOL a ruck on the Banbridge 22 was turned over, “Sat Nav” did his best to get the ball back but the ref deemed it off side and rather harshly yellow carded him for his infringement.
Following this, with Carrick at a numerical disadvantage Banbridge made a rare break into Carrick territory. They went through 5 phases before “juicehead” won a monumental turnover on his own 22’, from that the ball went left through crisp hands and arrived safely in the mitts of “Wee Sam” …. He gassed 1 defender on the outside and then stepped a second, as a third came across he stepped inside, leaving all 3 strewn across the rifle park pitch like dogs waiting to get their belly’s rubbed and then showed a clean pair of heals to the covering defence to score Carrick’s third under the posts. He then coolly added the conversion.
This left Carrick needing 1 more score to achieve their 5-point target. Again 9 & 10 played Carrick into the correct areas of the park but to Banbridge’s credit they always came back strongly. At 70 minutes Carrick were told to attack from everywhere in search of the elusive 4th try. From a lineout inside the Carrick 22 the “wee general” and “hard as nails” concocted an attack up the blind. When the forwards added their support the move ended up on the Banbridge 10m line. Away went the “wee general” again … inside one man and with one more to beat he placed a cute Barnes Wallace (grubber for those of you uncultured individuals) in behind to run onto but was clattered – a heinous professional foul by the Banbridge winger… ”Penalty try” shouted “Braveheart” but of course the referee ‘didnae’ understand (Imagine that!). From the penalty Carrick went for touch and from the ensuing lineout a number of pick and drives prodded towards the Banbridge line, G-Man had a go, as did “juicehead”, even “the aggressor leant his considerable weight but who would be the player you would least expect to make the line and score from a pick and drive ….“the quiet man”…. the bonus point try was scored. Quite what he was doing there I don’t think he even knows but the right place at right time. When “wee Sam” added the extras Bann had had enough and the ref called the game early. Final Score Carrick 29 Banbridge 0
Carrick have a big task next week when their only league conquerors this year Dromore travel to Tom Simms Memorial Park.
Following feedback that there was insufficient content or interesting commentary in these match reports there is now an added dimension, the team list below now includes a player rating (not scored by the author) (scores are out of 10). 2 players have been deducted 2 points for non-payment of jersey money*
Carrick Team: Sam Wallace 8, Marcus Brush 5*, Michael Black 6, Shaun Hardie 6, Kyle Jordan 4*, David Carse 6, Kenny Topping 7, Nathan Greenwood 7, Jack Millar 7, Curtis Rea 7, David Ferris 6, Keith McNeil 7, Robbie Williams 6, Richard Higgins 7, James Graham 6, Joel Bell 6, Jonny Mooney 6, Kris Berry 6

Carrick 4s v Coleraine 3s (h)
With a heavy pitch under foot the Reapers took on Coleraine thirds at home. On the back of last week’s superb win the team were well up for another contest which would be won in the packs performance.

The forwards didn’t disappoint with Bree, Arthur and Skinny to name a few on top form. Carrick took the early lead and a well disciplined pack turned the screw. Ed Montgomery at scrum half showed his versatility as a player. The ever brilliant Luke Totten and Ian Penny popped up all over the pitch to bring down guys a lot heavier.
A run from half way by Billy Donegani breaking two tackles and scoring was outstanding.
The final result was a win for Carrickfergus 31-12. Coleraine lost their number 10 at the 50th minute and we all wish him a speedy recovery. Coleraine showed a very spirited performance and played a hard attacking game. On a funny note the Coleraine number 3 ran at Bree who stood his ground and it was like watching someone hitting a brick wall.
Special mention to Ian Penny who was brilliant and was marginally pipped at the post by Arthur for man of the match.
Tries from Porter, Bree, Rab and Billy Donegani, conversions from Luke

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