COLERAINE have been knocked out of the Junior Cup after a hard fought battle at Malone on Saturday.
Despite reaching last season’s final of the competition, Coleraine fell at the first hurdle this time. With a considerably different panel this week, the Bannsiders struggled up front but managed to put in a very credible performance.
It was only in the last five minutes that the Belfast side managed to break the deadlock and win by a try.
Prior to the match a number of players were sidelined with injuries and several new faces got a sudden promotion to the First squad. It may have been sudden but each player stood up to the test and they all put in very strong performances.
Speaking after the game coach Stevie Ritchie was disappointed with the result. He said: “It is disappointing to go out of the cup so early but it was a hard fought match and we can take a lot of positives from it.
“We had several people playing up in the firsts for the first time this season and they all proved equal to the task. We lacked a bit in some areas of our game but, as the score-line shows, overall we put up a good show against very strong opposition.
“We also lost David Andrews through injury during the first half and we will be watching with interest to see how he responds to treatment.”
In the match the first scoring opportunity went to Malone Seconds, but the kick from the Coleraine 22 went wide.
It fell to Coleraine to secure the first points with only seven minutes on the clock. From a quick tap, captain Kenny Calladine made a forceful break before setting the ball loose across the back line.
Alex Gourley got the final touch and showed great speed and strength to burst through the final defenders and score. David Andrews was on kicking duty but the conversion drifted just wide.
Seven minutes later Malone made maximum use of their superior weight in the pack to release Jamie Martin to score from a scrum in the Coleraine 22.
From the restart Andrews was injured in a hard tackle and was replaced by Peter Archibald. A reshuffle saw him at scrum half and Scott Caithness moved to No10.
In the final five minutes of the half Coleraine’s Jonny Henderson took over kicking duties and scored with a penalty from 20 metres.
The final move of the half saw Peter McGonigle make a fantastic break from the half way line only to be stopped short of the line. Another penalty was awarded but Henderson’s effort was fractionally wide, leaving the half time score Malone 5 Coleraine 8.
The second half saw Coleraine attack again but they were unable to find the finishing touch. It was the home side to score again on 22 minutes, Morwood picking up three points from a 20 metre penalty.
Harry Tate came on for the final quarter, replacing the injured McGonigle.
There were only five minutes left when Malone sealed the outcome of the game. It was Morwood again, scoring in the corner after sustained Malone pressure, but missing out on the conversion, giving Malone the winning margin of 13-8.
Now Coleraine look forward to an interesting local derby, entertaining Coleraine University, newcomers to the league, at Sandel lodge on Saturday. There is sure to be great interest in this inaugural league match and a great game is in store.
Coach Stevie Ricthie will be looking carefully at his line-up, as the early season injury toll mounts, and there will be a lot of work to be done in training as the week progresses.
Kick-off is 2.30pm. Why not come along and enjoy what promises be a very entertaining afternoon.
Coleraine First XV: A Stirling, R Smyth, A Hogg, D Ramage, R Cochrane, S Douglas, J Crummey, K Calladine, S Caithness, D Andrews (P Archibald), P McGonigle (H Tate), P OHara, B Cochrane, J Henderson, A Gourley. Subs: H Tate, P Archibald