Senior Cup Quarter Final: Instonians Exit: Instonians 1st XV 20 Malone 1st XV 32

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This Ulster Senior Cup Quarter Final game proved a bridge too far for an experimental young Instonians side. Instonians entertained near neighbours Malone at Shaw’s Bridge on Saturday, 16th October. It was played in near perfect conditions on a beautiful autumn day that brought out a healthy crowd of spectators.

Instonian head coach, Clem Boyd, was clear before the game that he was field a much changed team than the one which had performed so well in the early stages of the AIL. In fact, he started only three of the team that had previously beaten Malone in mid-September. Clem saw it as an opportunity to blood some new players and give them invaluable cup experience.

It was a game of close margins – the odd dropped pass or nudge forward made all the difference between the two sides. Instonians started poorly, failed to clear from the kick-off and from a scrum inside their twenty two gave away an easy converted try after only 2 minutes. However, they hit back and scored a try of their own by blindside flanker Rory Sheard, who crashed through an attempted tackle by the Malone full-back to score in the corner. This followed a good period of Instonian pressure and an excellent dart by left wing Alistair Andress, who was able to off-load to the supporting Rory Sheard and put him clear with only the fullback to beat. Instonians then went into the lead after 28 minutes through a well-struck penalty by out-half Scott Browne. Scott was unlucky a couple of minutes later when he saw a penalty from a similar position hit a post and bounce out. Malone used this reprieve to burst clear and score a try some moments later to put them back in the lead.

The first half ended with another relatively easy Malone try. They were first to react when awarded a penalty inside the Instonians twenty-two. A quick tap penalty brought them close to the goal line, from where they were able to burst over before the Inst defence could reset. This left them in a handy 17-8 lead on the stroke of half time.

The second –half was mainly a tit for tat affair with the sides scoring two further tries apiece. The choice one was an intercept from Scott Browne which saw him canter from the halfway line down the middle of the pitch with a Malone posse giving chase. He made it to score at the posts! The scoring finished with a straightforward Malone penalty in front of the posts after 30 minutes. Instonians launched a series of further attacks but these fizzled out through minor errors or a lack of patience and composure.

Overall Malone were worthy winners; they were more experienced and streetwise. They were content to concede penalties and free kicks when under pressure and generally show a bit more guile. In fact they conceded 15 kicks to only 8 by Instonians. On another day this might have cost them dearly, as Instonians, especially in the second-half, tended to run penalties rather than kick at goal. Clem Boyd will not be too disappointed with his team. They stuck in well, held their own in the set pieces, and showed flair, if a little impatience, when in possession. Players like young prop Niall Alexander will know that they can live and indeed prosper at this level. Substitute scrum-half Nicolas Andress showed up well when he came on in the second half and substitute left wing Matthew Wright showed a number of deft touches.

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