REPORTS Donaghadee RFC I XV 5 v Bangor RFC I XV 25 & II XV 12 Ballyclare IV XV 8

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Donaghadee 1st XV 5 Bangor 1st XV 25

A great atmosphere prevailed at Donaldson Park with Mini Rugby from Donaghadee and Bangor entertaining a large crowd prior to the main event – the second meeting of near neighbours Donaghadee & Bangor in this season’s Kukri Qualifying One.

After both sides missed kickable penalties it was Bangor who were having the better of the set-piece exchanges and pressure from their scrum yielded two penalties both of which were converted to allow them to open up a 6-0 lead.

Neither side was gaining the upper hand at this stage but it was veteran Bangor scrum-half Ricky Armstrong who stretched his side’s lead following a characteristic dart and feint towards the Dee line led to the first try of game. The conversion was added to leave the half-time score 13-0 in favour of the visitors.

Although the wind was in their favour in the second half Donaghadee were now playing a chasing game and were unfortunate to lose right-wing Ryan Irvine to the sin-bin for perceived team offences. Paradoxically the Dee now exhibited their best form of the game but were undone when a loose lineout was spilled in the Bangor twenty-two before their Captain and stand-out player on the day Jamie Clegg broke to feed winger Charles who ran the length of the field to score an unconverted try.

It was now Bangor’s turn to experience the referee’s wroth and their hooker Jackson was consigned to the sin-bin after one too many illegal incursions by the Uprichard Park men. During the ensuing period Donaghadee attacked relentlessly via rolling maul and backline foray before Alastair Lockhart noticed the Bangor defence lying flat and deftly chipped the ball for Paul McKenzie to pick up and score. Unfortunately the subsequent conversion was missed when a blast of the icy wind which influenced the game all afternoon knocked the ball off the kicking tee after Paul Blewitt’s run-up had started.

Blewitt now used this wind to good effect however keeping Bangor pinned in their own twenty-two for sustained periods of play but Donaghadee were frustrated by occasional unforced errors and exceptional Bangor defence.

The continuity of the game was broken up, however, when a couple of niggles led to handbags and a player for each side was consigned to the bin. Subsequent to this break the Dee lost Max Montgomery to injury and Bangor upped their counter attack game and after Widdowson was stopped just short of the line Bangor were awarded a five metre scrum. After only one re-set Donaghadee were adjudged to have disrupted the scrum for a second time and incredibly the referee award a penalty try to Bangor which they duly converted.

There was no further scoring and the game ended with Bangor running out winners by a 25-5 margin. Ultimately Donaghadee will be disappointed with the result of a game they probably thought they could edge given their recent form but they now look forward to their last three league games against Instonians (A), Dromore (H) and Ballymoney (A) in their continued effort to finish eighth and avoid the threat of potential relegation from the top flight. Irrespective of the result the afternoon and evening was a magnificent occasion both on and off the pitch with a huge crowd enjoying the entertainment and gave further evidence of the vibrancy which exists at this level of rugby in Ulster – especially where local derbys are concerned.

Donaghadee 2nd XV 12 Ballyclare 4th XV 8

The Seconds welcomed Ballycare IV’s to Donaldson Park in the Quarter-Finals of the Forster Cup.
The men from Clare started strongly letting the Dee men know that this wasn’t going to be an easy day at the office. The Dee defence held tight under formidable pressure from the opposition but a momentary lapse in concentration left a gap five metres out from the Dee line which the experienced Clare side exploited scoring the first points of the game. The conversion was then missed. The Dee men now knew that this was not going to be no walk in the park, and responded accordingly. The early try by Clare seemed to fire up the Dee who were quickly on the attack driving Ballyclare down into their own twenty-two. The cracks began to appear in the Clare defence as tiredness and frustration set in leading to the Dee being awarded a penalty and the home side opted for the posts. The penalty, which was taken my resident kicker Andy McGrugan, fell short being carried backwards by the strong wind. Soon afterwards the Dee side were driving into the tough Clare defence with hard carries from both second rows Stephen Cullen and Gareth Martin. With an amazing work rate from the back row of Matthew Johnston, Owen Roberts and Jonny Stewart they repeatedly secured ball and this resulted in the home side creeping increasingly closer towards the Clare line. The ball was quickly flashed wide to Andy McGrugan who, with his quick feet and blistering pace, beat two defenders to score in the bottom right hand corner. The conversion was missed.
Ballyclare came back at the Dee hard and fast stretching the home side defence. Donaghadee held strong with a number of big hits and several try saving tackles from the home side but frustration began to creep in once again which led to Donaghadee conceding a penalty in front of their posts. The Clare No. 10 had no problem slotting the ball over for another 3 points. This brought up half-time with the Dee trailing by 8-5.
Shortly into the second half the referee got his yellow card out but luckily it was in the Dee’s favour as he sent the Clare No. 8 to the bin. With a man down this was an excellent time to push for the Clare line with great running and ball control from out-half Chris McGivern the Dee men pushed on. With time running out and the Clare side back to fifteen men and only three points ahead the Dee men knew what they had to do, with some fantastic phase play from the pack and great carries from Paul Hamilton and Blair Savage the home side crept ever nearer to the Ballyclare line. With some quick ball from scrum half Chris Scott it gave the talented backline something to work with some quick hands and a cheeky dummy which saw Andy Cash cut his way through the despairing Clare defence to score underneath their posts. The steady boot of Andy McGrugan slotted the ball between the posts to take the score to 12-8. With two minutes to go Clare took the restart and were up very quickly attacking Dee but, with a few fumbles , Donaghadee secured the ball. In what seemed the longest two minutes ever the Dee then drove into the Clare defence edging them slowly backwards. In the second last play of the game number 8 Johnny ‘baby faced’ Stewart took ball crashing through the Clare defence before being finally being slowed up by several defenders but managed to get an off-load to Gareth Martin who took off down the line with Andy McGrugan in support only to have the referee blow it up and bring it back for the knock on. In what was the final moments of the game a scrum was called from which the Dee managed to secure ball and seal the game with a brilliant kick into touch by Chris Scott.
Final score 12-8 in what was an extremely testing match against a very experienced side, yet no one was willing to give up the chance of a Semi-Final position up easily. Thanks must go once again to Jimmy McCoy for his help throughout the week and on Saturday afternoon, to Blair Savage who just about made his flight to Glasgow after the game and the rest team for such a gutsy performance. The 2’s now proceed into the Semi-Final of the Forster Cup for the first time in recent years. These games will be played on the 14th March 2015 with the draw yet to be made.

Queens 4th XV 52 Donaghadee 3rd XV 0

As is often said in rugby – ‘it was a game of two halves’, but unfortunately for the Dee men both halves were pretty similar with the students running in four tries and converting three in each forty minute spell to leave a rather flattering 52-0 scoreline at full time.

With a quarter of the Dee team arriving within 20 minutes of kick off it was clear that the students were the more organised outfit having been on the paddock running drills since before 1.30pm. This appeared to make little difference in the first 5 minutes as the Dee kicked off with the wind and sun at their backs and dominated possession and territory. Sturdy Queens defence kept the Dee men out and on the 10th minute a loose Dee kick found the young queens 15 just outside his own 22 and he quickly turned defence into attack with some quick footwork down the right touchline to scamper over under the posts for the first 7 pointer of the day. This pretty much set the tone for the afternoon, in a game that was reasonably well contested up front with territory and possession being relatively even throughout – despite the stiff breeze- the students showed superior speed and agility, taking advantage of some poor Dee tackling to score a further 6 break away tries from deep in their own half and perhaps more frustrating for the elder Dee men, one close range drive by the queens pack to dot down out wide.

The Dee men did come close to scoring on a few occasions with a bulldozing run by Elliot Vollands, bouncing off a few front line defenders 10 yards out and dragging a further 4 over the line with him only for the ball to not be visible under the pile of bodies. In the latter stages of the game DRFC debutant and cross code warrior Owen Taggart made a dart down the right touchline and was in the clear only to be pulled back by the touch judge’s flag.

All in all a disappointing result for the Dee 3s who are holding on to a mid-table position, to sum it up, you will not win rugby games if you don’t make your tackles.

On a more positive note, on a week when DRFC 1s and 2s were stealing the limelight at Donaldson Park the Dee 3rds were still Able to field a full squad of 18, with a further 2 willing participants on the side line eager to get involved if required. On the day three new 3rd XV caps were awarded with Scott Gardner taking his place on the wing, Owen Taggart starting the game at 9 and finishing at 13, and Zac Hughes enjoying his first few weeks of senior rugby following his 18th birthday last week. Also taking the field was the evergreen – or evergrey Vic Vinethorpe, who first retired from rugby before young Zac was even born. Vic is still proving that age is no barrier by being one of the hardest men on the pitch well into his 60s. A salutary experience but, on the plus side, good to see Stuart Thompson returned to playing after long-term injury.

Next week sees the 3rds return to action in the Butler Shield Quarter Final at home to Enniskillen 3rds. With both towns 1s and 2s also in action it will a true tussle of social rugby talent as East meets West to fight it out on the park and enjoy a few beers in the club house together afterwards. With the DRFC 1sts and 2nds already progressed to their respective cup Semi Finals only time will tell if the 3rds can make it three from three for the Seasiders in 2015. All support is welcomed at Donaldson Park for the 2.30pm kick-off on the big pitch.


This week the 1st XV travel to Shaws Bridge where they will meet Q1 league leaders Instonians, the 2nd XV continue their promotion drive at Kilraughts Road where they play Ballymoney III and (as noted above) the only game at Donaldson Park is the 3rd XV’s Butler Shield Quarter-Final against Enniskillen III. All games kick-off at 2:30pm.

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