Coleraine First XV recorded a comfortable 28-3 Junior League win over visitors Donaghadee at Sandel Lodge on Saturday.
The bonus point victory moves Coleraine from second last to sixth in the league standings and that is an indication of the close competition in the league. The target now is to keep improving on that position.
As the league focus now shifts to the Junior Cup in two weeks time, with the draw for the matches taking place next week, injuries continue to mount and this weekend has added to the tally and the selection worries.
Coleraine coach Richard Beggs was delighted with Saturday’s performance. Speaking after the match he said: “That is the sort of performance that has been on the cards for the past few weeks.
“Our front row was awesome and the scrum worked really well. That gave us a great platform for the backs to run at them and we controlled the game well.
“It is a great result and the important fourth try and bonus point came towards the end of the game. That can be very important for final positions towards the end of the league.
“Unfortunately we added to our injury worries with Kenny Calladine, who was having an amazing match, suffering a knee injury and Stevie Patterson, so influential in the centre, with an eye injury. Added to our other injuries it leaves us with some issues for selection next week, away to Ballynahinch Seconds in the Conference League.
“The following week we have our Junior Cup semi – we find out on Monday who we face and where – and hopefully some of the injuries will be sorted by then. No matter who we draw it will be a hard fixture.
“Overall today was a very strong performance and we are delighted with the game and the result. It shows what we can achieve and the potential in the squad.”
On Saturday Donaghadee came under pressure from the off and with five minutes on the clock Coleraine had a scrum close to the visitors’ lines. From this platform Coleraine No8 Kenny Calladine palmed off two defenders as he struck for the line and a great try. Bokkie Carstens was on target for the extras. 7-0
On 24 minutes the visiting No6 was yellow carded for infringements in the loose after Donaghadee stopped Calladine just short of the line. A series of Coleraine scrums were kept out and eventually Donaghadee secured a turnover ball and cleared.
Just on the half hour Coleraine attacked from a throw-in on the Donaghadee 22. A series of rucks ensued and eventually scrum-half Carstens spotted a narrow gap, dodged through the defence and scored under the posts. His conversion was sound. 14-0
In the dying moments of the half the visitors took a penalty opportunity from 30 metres and scored. Half time score 14-3
As the second half got underway, the visitors twice, and Coleraine once, had penalty attempts go off-target as Coleraine dominated the set piece plays.
With 25 minutes of the half gone the Coleraine forwards were again camped on the visitor’s line when the ever present Carstens spotted another gap and took full advantage to dive over the line for another converted try. 21-3
Coleraine cranked up the attack as they went for the bonus point try and almost on the blow Aaron Gaston was there to take possession from the ruck and force his way through the defence to score. Carstens was on target again, bringing the final score to Coleraine 28-3 Donaghadee.
This Saturday the Firsts travel to Ballynahinch in the Conference League.
In the draw for the Junior Cup semi final on Monday afternoon, ‘Cookstown’ sponsored Coleraine could potentially face Ballynahinch 2s again, or Ballyclare, or Ballymoney. Coleraine will be looking for a home fixture but, no matter which team, the match will be a difficult encounter, a place in the final just after Christmas at stake.
In other games at the weekend, the Seconds lost out 30-19 at Malone and the Thirds won 24-7 at home to Donaghadee Seconds.
Coleraine First XV: A Gaston, M Hunter, S Best, W Chestnutt, D Ramage, A Neely, B Mullan, K Calladine, B Carstens, M Poskitt, R Dehaghni, S Patterson, D Rankin, A Barr, A Chambers. Subs: N Logan, S McLean