Rugby: Cookstown into McCambley semi after victory over Carrick

Owen Mallon on the charge for Cookstown. Picture by Daron Patterson.

Owen Mallon on the charge for Cookstown. Picture by Daron Patterson.

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COOKSTOWN 13 CARRICK 10

Cookstown RFC progressed to the semi-finals of the McCambley Cup following a three point victory over Carrickfergus RFC.

This was a titanic battle between two very evenly matched sides. Cookstown are a one-team club with a fine balance of experience and youth.

Carrickfergus were much the same with a few more ‘experienced heads’ in their pack.

The game kicked off with Cookstown applying early pressure through their pack with out-half Ciaran Currie keeping them on the front foot. Unfortunately indiscipline in the home team let Carrick off the hook on a number of occasions and indeed accounted the away side’s first points following back-chat to the referee.

This appeared to spark Cookstown into life as they lay siege to the Carrick line using their pack to set up field position. A penalty on the halfway line was kicked to the corner where Cookstown mauled the resultant lineout over the Carrick line, number eight JP Reah getting the touch down. The conversion was missed, score 5-3 to Cookstown.

The restart failed to go the requisite ten metres and Cookstown attacked wide from the resultant scrum. Fine hands from centres McKenna and Nugent put winger McKenna into space where he evaded a number of tackles. A number of phases ensued as Cookstown made ground through the scrambling defence were once again winger McKenna got his hands on the ball to dot down in the corner to score an unconverted try.

The second half saw an error strewn performance from both sides. Both out halves played a cautious kicking game to establish field position. A knock on and a Carrick scrum from the half-way line saw the Carrick number eight pick and evade a number of tackles to score beside the Cookstown posts. The conversion tied the scores at 10-10.

The rest of the game was played out between the respective 22 lines however a few last-ditch tackles were required to keep the Cookstown line intact. Martin Boone featured prominently throughout.

With minutes remaining Cookstown started to dominate the exchanges in the loose, tight head prop Owen Mallon, flanker Martin Devlin and centre Kevin Nugent enjoying the open spaces. The winning score of the day came following a fine trundle from Mallon which put his team on the front foot just inside the Carrick 22.

An indiscretion in the ruck resulted in a penalty to Cookstown which was slotted over by Paul O’Neill to give the home side a three point lead with three minutes left.

Cookstown endured a tense final few minutes when a number of penalties and errors allowed Carrick to retain possession and threaten an equaliser. Into injury time and the final play of the game saw the home team turn the ball over following a charge from the Carrick pack. The ball was booted to touch much to delight of the home team.

The team are now scheduled to play Ballynahinch 7’s in the semi-final on 22 March at MUSA with the victors going on to contest the final at Ravenhill.

Cookstown: McKeown, McKenna, McKenna, Nugent, Nugent, Currie, O’Neill, Currie, Rea, Mallon, Stewart, Brown, Devlin, Boone, Reah, Stinson, Jafarr, Weir.