Coleraine Seconds took on the might of Queen’s University Thirds in the Crawford Cup on Saturday and successfully battled their way through to the next round.
The final score, Coleraine 17 Queens 3, sets up a mouth-watering clash away to local rivals Ballymoney Seconds in the next round of the Cup on 23 February. The score is even more impressive as Coleraine played most of the second half with only 14 men but maintained control of proceedings and secured the win.
Coach John Boyd was delighted with the performance. Speaking after the match he said: “It is very hard to get the guys working together because the team keeps changing with people having to play up the club, but the squad is really coming together.
“We are looking forward to playing Ballymoney in the next round. They beat us at the beginning of the season so we know it won’t be easy but we will be giving it our very best shot and I hope that we will have a big support down there for the game”.
For the match, it was a much changed team from the previous week, when several players had been called up for duty with the Firsts, and it took a while for the players to settle in. The game was fairly even for the first 20 minutes but Coleraine did not use the wind advantage and gave away a lot of penalties. Queens claimed the first points from a penalty as they attacked the Coleraine lines.
On the half hour Coleraine’s Tommy Van Wyk burst through the Queens defence, off-loaded to captain Paul Shiels who juggled but controlled the ball and scored under the posts. Cameron Jinks converted.
In the second half the home side found the going tough playing into the wind and had to work hard, keeping the ball in hand. The Coleraine pack knuckled down and worked the ball up the field, pinning Queens in their 22 for most of the half. New man John Boyd and the experienced Andrew Hutchinson were vital in this regard.
Scrum-half Andy McKnight almost scored but was brought down at the line. His reward was an injury in the tackle and he had to leave the field. Down to 14 men, Coleraine battled even harder. Props Andy Nevin and Arnie Hogg were key, making metre after metre. With 15 minutes to go Coleraine got their second try. Steven Dickey made a great run into the 22. The ball was recycled quickly and again Van Wyk beat his man to give Harry Tate the space to score an unconverted try in the corner.
Coleraine pressed again, Boyd and Hutchinson linking up to drive Queens back deep into their half. Acting scrum-half Scott Caithness cleverly switched play to the blindside, offloading to Ryan Gibson who then popped play back inside to Shiels who dived over for his second try. The wind put paid to the conversion and the match played out to the final score Coleraine 17 Queens 3.
The next round of the Crawford Cup will be played at Ballymoney on 23 February. In the only other game on Saturday the Fourths lost out 10-20 at home to Cooke 4s.