Cookstown 67 Banbridge 0
COOKSTOWN RFC resumed its Minor league programme in fine fashion with a try fest victory over a beleaguered Banbridge side. Played in fine weather conditions for rugby at Mid Ulster Sports Arena, the sizeable crowd were treated to a spectacle of attacking running rugby.
Having won the toss Cookstown elected to kick to Banbridge. A strong cross field wind played havoc with the tactical kicking of both sides early in the game. A somewhat stray kick from full back Barry Loughran resulted in a Banbridge lineout in the Cookstown 22. The Banbridge pack elected to drive at Cookstown however the home pack promptly dismantled the opposition maul with loose head prop Richard Brown to the fore.
Following some hard running and off-loading from the Cookstown backs and forwards, scrum half Daryl Donaghy chipped the ball into the Banbridge 22 which was subsequently knocked on by the full back. Unfortunately the resultant scrum went against the head but number eight JP Reah managed to charge down an attempted clearance from the ‘Bridge’ out half. The ball was picked up by team Captain Ryan Eastwood who dotted down for an easy try. Conversion missed.
Into the second quarter and Cookstown settled into their running game. A fine offload by number eight JP Reah saw Daryl Donaghy make a 20m break. Unfortunately Daryl knocked on as he tried to offload but the pack managed to turn over the ball from the resultant scrum. With out half Ciaran Currie running onto quick ball the Cookstown backs started to create gaps. A great offload by Ciaran Currie as he attacked the line saw outside centre Ciaran Mckenna dive in for a try. Successful conversion.
With the wind in their sails the Cookstown backs attacked at every opportunity. Ciaran Currie sent an audacious cross field kick to full back Barry Loughran who dived in the corner for a well taken try. Conversion missed.
The second half saw some forced changes. An injury to influential backrower Martin Devlin paved the way for local Kildress farmer John ‘Rambo’ McGurk to make his league debut. A further reshuffle also saw Boone move to the back row.
Fortunately these changes did not materially affect the flow of play and the second half started with Banbridge on the back foot. A rock solid scrum paved the way for JP Reah to pick and go where he unselfishly popped to fellow backrower Eastwood who touched down under the posts. Try Converted.
Experienced campaigner Gavin Stinson entered the fray in second row which allowed the once excommunicated Chris Moore to return to the front row union. Chris was clearly relishing his return to the Coal Face as he immediately made his presence felt in the contact area. One occasion saw him turn over a ball following a great tackle. He promptly picked and went on a 50 metre trail of destruction and unselfishly popped to centre Kezzy Nugent who scored in the corner despite the attempted decapitation from a Banbridge defender. Conversion missed.
Due to the dangerous tackle on Nugent during the previous play, the referee awarded Cookstown a penalty. Cookstown elected to kick to touch and the resultant lineout took place in the Banbridge 22. An excellent maul drive from the pack saw Captain Ryan Eastwood score a try under the posts. Try Converted.
Cookstown collected the resultant restart and immediately went on the attack with some fine interpassing between backs and forwards. Sharp handling saw second rower Colin Workman race down the sideline. With two defenders wrapped around him, Workman managed a ‘Sonny Bill Williams’ one handed offload to Eastwood who scored once again under the posts.
Continued pressure in the Banbridge 22 saw scrum half Donaghy snipe from the side of a ruck to score his first try for the club. Conversion missed.
The restart saw the Cookstown forwards make yards into the Bridge 22. Quick ball from a ruck saw the ball spread out to the Cookstown backs where centre Nugent took a fantastic line to score under the Banbridge posts. Try Converted.
The final score of the day saw the industrious Rea pick from a ruck and power over the line with three Bridge defenders clinging on. The try was converted and the referee blew the final whistle.
Team Captain Ryan Eastwood was pleased with his charge’s performance and in particular the boys who made their league debut. Ryan also praised the boys who came off the bench and made their presence felt.
In awarding man of the match, Team Manager Mark Brown commented that everyone put their hands up but it was hard to look past the four try haul of Ryan Eastwood. A committee meeting was held after the game where emergency legislation was passed. The club now requires the first player to score a hatrick during a competitive game to buy a pitcher/jug of beer for the team.
The Club and players would like to thank Performance Nutrition Plus for supplying the team with a much needed medical bag. We would also like to thank McConnell Intersport Cookstown for Sponsoring the Match Ball; the lovely ladies at Brown Sugar for providing the post match food and Mulligan’s Bar for hosting the post game hospitality.
Training continues on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7pm Drapersfield.