Firsts produce strong performance to seal win

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Coleraine pulled out all the stops to produce a strong 26-17 win over Ballymena Seconds in the Conference League on Thursday evening.

Played midweek, and under floodlights at Rugby Avenue, the game brought a large crowd of supporters to the club. Coleraine seemed the stronger side through most of the match and were worthy winners in what was a closely fought encounter.

The win will boost confidence in the Coleraine camp as they prepare to meet Portadown in the league at the weekend. Portadown are second in the Kukri Qualifying League and a tough game is in prospect.

Speaking after Thursday’s match, Coleraine coach Richard Beggs said: “It was a great performance this evening and the boys put in a lot of work.

“We showed discipline and kept control when it was important. We defended well and we showed how dangerous we can be in attack - getting three tries was fantastic.

“We now have Portadown at home and although they are second in the league we will be looking to make the most of home advantage and get a result.

“The following week we are away to CIYMS in the league. Then we entertain Clogher Valley over the next two weekends.

“On 22 February we meet Clogher in the quarter final of the Towns Cup and the next week it is back to the league, where they are the league leaders. That is four really tight games in four weeks so we have a lot of work to do.

“We are really up for each and every one of the games and we’re looking forward to all our supporters turning out to cheer us on.”

On Thursday evening Conor Simpson was instrumental in the first score with a strong break in mid field. He scythed through the defence and Brian Cochrane was in support to take the final pass and sprint over the line in the corner and score with only six minutes on the clock. 5-0

The second try came from an intercept five metres from the Coleraine line as phase after phase of Ballymena attack was held at bay. As the ball moved from the back of the scrum Cochrane nabbed the pass and sprinted the length of the pitch, outpacing the struggling defence, to score under the posts. Bokkie Carstens claimed the extras. 12-0

Ballymena were still fighting hard and the final score of the first half saw a converted try for the visitors. 12-7

In the second half the first points again went to Coleraine when Simpson powered through the defence, attacking from a 15-metre lineout. Carstens secured the extras. 19-7

As Coleraine pressed home their advantage with a series of well worked phases scrum-half Andy McKnight drew the defence with a great dummy and Carstens broke through to score and then convert. 26-7

Ballymena replied with a successful penalty and just as the match ended a great score in the corner as the forwards rumbled over the line. The conversion brought the final tally to Coleraine 26-17 Ballymena.

This weekend Coleraine Firsts entertain Portadown in the league, kick off 2.30pm.

Coleraine First XV: A Hogg, R Smyth, M Hunter, D Ramage, K Greenlaw, A Neely, B Mullan, S Douglas, A McKnight, B Carstens, A Barr, C Hughes, C Simpson, S Moffatt, B Cochrane.