Again mixed fortunes for three of the Youth section teams this week as they played host to Ballyclare as the 19s missed out on a friendly game to keep them match fit for their next league encounter.
U13s Coleraine 7 Ballyclare 32
At last some much needed game time for this fledgling Coleraine U13 side adding to their experience and despite a sizeable defeat at the hands of their visitors, morale in this young team is high as they continue to learn the trade at Rugby Avenue. Most of the Coleraine side were playing in position for the first time as Coaches looked on to see where the strengths and weaknesses lay. Ballyclare came to town with a physically bigger and clearly more experienced squad and although they out-muscled the Coleraine lads particularly in the ruck, they lacked some discipline and a less lenient referee might have meant a narrower margin in the eventual scoreline.
Both sides tended to herd a little too much around the breakdown and the game lacked some ball through the hand. For Coleraine deserved MOM full back Brandon McCorriston put in some great text book and fearless tackles which helped stem the Ballyclare tendency to simply charge at the Coleraine defence while centre Ian McGinnis and flanker Kye Friel were gaining good yardage through gaps in Ballyclare only to get snared in contact.
The critical link between scrum half James Allen and out half Harry McAleese failed to come off as an inexperienced Coleraine pack chose the pick and drive option all too often when clearly the ball needed to move through the back line. Meanwhile Ballyclare were clocking up the points until five minutes from the end scrum half James Allen finally saved Coleraine from a blank score sheet by crossing the opponents try line which centre Ian McGinnis successfully converted.
Much work to be done but everyone in this young squad, including Coaches are optimistic for the future as these young players are clearly packed with potential and Coleraine’s Youth section looks to benefit for a few years to come as they continue to build on their experience.
U15s Coleraine 17 Ballyclare 24
While the U13s were trying to hold off a bigger Ballyclare opposition on Pitch 1, the U15s were embroiled in a tough and bruising encounter on Pitch 2 which saw a narrower points margin reflecting a close contest. Again Ballyclare looked the physically stronger side but it was Coleraine who gained and held the lead for most of the game. Some might put down Ballyclare’s fortunes to some slightly partisan and questionable refereeing decisions and flagged up how vital it is to have more impartial Branch Officials turning up for games and avoid putting immense pressure on coaches and others to take on the important role when much is at stake. Eventually Ballyclare made up the ground and overtook their hosts to end the game a disappointing 7 points clear to take victory.
Players staff and everyone associated at Youth Rugby at CRFC wish to pass on their sincerest condolences to U15s Head Coach Glenn McKnight on the sad loss of his father this week.
U17s Coleraine 49 Ballyclare 10
This strong league-topping U17 side continued their unbeaten run in the league with a comprehensive home victory against Ballyclare, thus avoiding a hat trick of wins for the visitors over the Youth section. Coleraine dominated from the off and served up a feast of running rugby to warm the hearts of home support on a cold morning. Six trys (one conversion) to only one from the visitors by the end of the first half meant this game was only going one direction.
The second half was more of the same with tremendous link play between forwards and backs demonstrating the depth of talent and potential that exists within this exciting squad. A further three second half trys brought the final score 49-10 in the home sides favour. Stephen Douglas at full back scored twice as did centre Alister Irwin and impressive prop David Whiteside, the other scorers were from the equally impressive second row forward Reece Ramage, flanker Chrissy Boreland and finally outside half Ryan Harper who had a good match all round.
Coach Daniel McAuley is aware of the much stiffer task ahead next week away to local rivals Ballymoney and has requested a full attendance at training this week. In the pack the front row of Michael McLaughlin Ruairi Sweeney and David Whiteside were completely dominant, and Reece Ramage in the second row is a real asset to the team. Callum McAleese captain and Flanker was his usual all action self and never gave the Ballyclare half backs any breathing space. In the backs Stephen Douglas at full back and Alister continued their fine scoring form and Ryan Purdy produced yet another superb performance at centre. Great performance but still work to be done to extract the very best from this fine team.
NEXT FIXTURE v BALLYMONEY (A)
Everyone at CRFC Youth Section are looking forward to a trip down the road to closest rivals Ballymoney next week and hope that they can be accompanied by good support from friends and relatives. These are the games that make getting up on cold winter Saturday mornings are made for.