Coleraine bowed out of the Junior Cup on Saturday as Ballyclare took the honours with a solid 3-22 win in the semi final at Sandel Lodge.
The home semi-final fixture saw an injury stricken Coleraine face the runaway leaders of Junior League Section Two. Yet again the visitors kept their composure to maintain their unbeaten record this season, as they march towards promotion to Section 1 of the league, as well as the Junior Cup final against Ballyclare Seconds.
Speaking after the match Coleraine coach Richard Beggs was disappointed but already refocused on the league.
He said: “It was a pity we couldn’t have made the final but we had a good run in the Junior Cup, making the semi-final. We had a weakened side today, but, even with that, we made a real game of it and were unfortunate not to make the more of our chances.
“We performed strongly in the scrum but outside that we seemed to lose possession too easily and our defence was lacking at times. Yet again we had players moving up as the result of injuries and we saw some very strong performances and glimpses of good things to come.
“Now we have to focus on the league. We are mid table but with all the sides being so evenly matched we will have to fight to maintain or improve that position.
“Ideally we want to aim for the top four by the end of the season but we will be taking every game as it comes and go for the win every time. There are some games we will be particularly targeting, must win games to secure our position, and they will be the key to our season.
“We also have the Towns Cup to look forward to. Our match in the first round is at home to Randalstown on January 4.
“This week we will be looking at our injured players and hoping some may become available for the Dromore game on Saturday. We have home advantage for this game and will be looking to make the most of that.
“We round the year off away to Cooke on December 21 and then entertain Ballymoney at Rugby Avenue on December 28. They are all difficult fixtures but we plan to get results on them all.”
On Saturday Ballyclare started well, an unconverted try with only six minutes on the clock and although Coleraine attacked it was the visitors to score again on 22 minutes, this time converted. Concerted Ballyclare pressure yielded a penalty just before the break and a scoreline of Coleraine 0-15 Ballyclare.
From the restart Coleraine attacked and were rewarded with a difficult penalty which Bokkie Carstens slotted home from 25 metres. Ballyclare responded immediately and their fullback startled the Coleraine defence, dodging all efforts to tackle and sprinted away to score under the posts four minutes into the second period. The conversion brought the score to 3-22.
Both sides attacked and defended in turn but despite both coming close on occasions, there were no more scores.
Coleraine bow out of the Junior Cup, as do neighbours Ballymoney who lost to Ballynahinch Seconds. Coleraine wish good luck and an injury free match to both teams in the final.
On Saturday Dromore come to Coleraine and both sides, separated by only two points in the league, will be looking for a win to improve their standing. The Coleraine team really appreciate strong support on the sideline, so please, come along and show your support. The Seconds are away to Carrick Seconds.
Coleraine First XV: A Gaston, M Hunter, S Best, R Gibson, D Ramage, K Greenlaw, A Neely, B Mullan, B Carstens, M Poskitt, N Hall, S Patterson, D Rankin, A Barr, A Chambers. Subs: J Henderson, R Dehaghani, A McKnight, C Breadon, A Thompson