In atrociously muddy conditions, Coleraine hearts were broken when Donaghadee snatched victory with a last minute try on Saturday.
It was a tightly contested match and both teams found the going difficult as the pitch rapidly turned into a quagmire. The conditions made progress slow, with little opportunity for expansive play, and in the end the final decisive try saw Coleraine lose out 9-11.
The result all but ensures that Coleraine miss out on a top four finish in the league and with it the opportunity to compete in the all-Ireland competition. With only one league game left to play, Coleraine’s chance now lies mainly in the hands of other teams.
Speaking after the game coach Richard Beggs said: “It was a tremendous effort by the team today. They fought hard throughout the game and it was gutting for them to see Donaghadee score for the win right at the end.
“The conditions were awful, but that was something both sides faced. It meant the backs could not get moving and the whole game was a hard slog.
“The man of the match for us was James Cromie. His work rate was phenomenal.
“Unfortunately James suffered a broken jaw during the game and our best wishes for a speedy recovery go to him from all the team.
“We now have only one match left in the league, away to CIYMS. We will be looking for another big performance from the team then and we will be looking for the win.”
The match was played in increasingly muddy conditions and by the end it was almost impossible to identify which team was which.
The scoring was opened by Barker for Donaghadee with a simple penalty in front of the posts after 12 minutes.
Ten minutes later David Andrews had an attempt from the Donaghadee 10-metre line and was just wide. Andrews made up for the miss with three points three minutes later.
As Coleraine again attacked Andrews scored from another penalty, on the half hour, to put Coleraine back in the lead.
Just before the break the visitors attacked and Barker scored again from the Coleraine 10-metre line, leaving the scores level on 6-all.
Seven minutes into the second half Andrews put Coleraine in the lead after a concerted attack on the Donaghadee lines. A penalty award in front of the posts yielded three points.
Following another trademark physical tackle Coleraine’s James Cromie suffered an injury to his jaw and Ryan Gibson came on in his place.
Both sides attacked and defended with great energy and Coleraine retained the lead until the last minutes.
With 35 minutes of the half gone Andrews left the pitch, replaced by Alan Stirling, Gibson moving to the backs. Within a few minutes another penalty was awarded to Coleraine and Alan Gourley kicked from the visitor’s 22, the ball drifting just right of the posts.
Coleraine’s determined defence of their lead suffered a fatal blow when Stevie Patterson was yellow carded.
Donaghadee attacked from the half way line and made use of the overlap for Chris McGovern to score an unconverted try in the corner, the points moving them into a 9-11 lead at the final whistle.
Coleraine were devastated at the development and the single losing bonus point seemed little reward for such a committed performance.
The date and time for the re-scheduled CIYMS match has yet to be decided.
Coleraine: A Teacy, M Hunter, J Carey, D Ramage, G Neely, A Neely, J Cromie (Gibson), S Douglas, S Caithness, D Andrews (Stirling), Alan Gourley, N Patterson, S Patterson, B Cochrane, Alex Gourley. Subs: R Gibson, A Stirling.