Coleraine came close to victory on Saturday but a ‘sting in the tail’ won the day for the visitors, Cooke in the opening league encounter.
The new look Coleraine side were facing an equally developmental Cooke in the first encounter of this season’s Kukri Junior League and until the very last play of the game, well into a lengthy injury time period, Cooke snatched the win. The sting was that the scorer of the try was Alex Gourley, a Coleraine squad member from last season, recently transferred to the Belfast side.
It was a very impressive game from both sides with a lot of open and challenging play entertaining the large crowd of spectators. There was little to chose between the sides as the match developed but in the end Coleraine had to be satisfied with a losing bonus point.
Speaking after the game Coleraine coach Richard Beggs took a positive view. He said: “We will take a lot of positives out of the game today. This is a developing side and we certainly showed a lot of skill, determination and ability on the park today.
“It is very disappointing to lose as we did, all their tries came when we were down to 14 men. But we know we were strong throughout the game and we can now move on to next week with that experience and confidence in our ability.
“We had a lot of young players out there today and they showed maturity and passion as well as skill and fitness. There are things to work on and training is essential for the entire squad as we get further into the league.
“This week we travel over to Ballymoney and that will be another big test for us. It’s always a difficult game and we will be looking for another big performance from the boys.”
Cooke took the first points after ten minutes. Both sides had probed but Kingham stormed away to score for the visitors, Robinson converting.
With just over 20 minutes gone Coleraine claimed their first points when Stevie Patterson made a storming break. Bernard Mullan got the pass and made good yards before sending Brian Cochrane sprinting in for the try. Carstens was on target to even the score.
The visitors replied with renewed vigour, twice missing with penalties. At half time honours remained even.
On the restart Coleraine went on the offensive immediately and the pressure paid of for the home side when a Cooke error gave Andrew Barr possession and he sprinted half the pitch, outpacing all the defence, to score under the posts. Carstens converted.
Coleraine came under sustained pressure after Bernard Mullan was yellow carded for an offside offence. Cooke rumbled forward from the resultant penalty and the forwards forced their way over the line, Moxon getting the touchdown but the conversion going wide.
Three minutes later, directly from the restart, Cooke stormed up the pitch and making full use of the overlap Kingham scored in the corner. Again the conversion drifted wide in the gusty conditions.
Coleraine attacked and were rewarded with a penalty which Carstens slotted between the posts to again even the score. Coleraine’s Simpson made another blistering break bringing play well into Cooke territory. Several phases put the visitors under a lot of pressure, eventually yielding a penalty which Carsten safely converted.
But then came the sting in the tail. With a Coleraine player injured and being treated in the Cooke half, the referee allowed a Cooke lineout in the Coleraine 22. The ball was flung across the backline and Alex Gourley, now playing for Cooke, made use of the overlap to squeeze into the opposite corner. The whistle went just as Alan Gourley’s conversion attempt went wide, leaving the final score 20-22 in favour of Cooke.
It was a very entertaining encounter and the visitors were very happy to take the win.
This Saturday, 7 September, Coleraine Firsts travel to Ballymoney and the Seconds entertain Carrick at home.
Members are reminded that Saturday also sees the Club BBQ, with lots of entertainment, with dancing to a live band and disco to make it an evening to remember. Tickets at £10 each are available at the club. It will be a great evening. Don’t miss it.
Coleraine First XV: A Gaston, S Evans, A Teacy, R Gibson, D Ramage, S McLean, B Mullan, S Douglas, B Carstens, M Poskitt, N Blair, S Patterson, C Simpson, A Barr, B Cochrane. Subs: A Hogg, R Smyth.