Coleraine Second XV responded to last week’s debacle against Ballymoney with a five-star performance playing away against Carrickfergus Second XV.
Coleraine had a number of changes from last week, and the 15 players on the pitch played excellently as a team, with a positive attitude and good discipline, to win in the end by a comfortable margin. Played in glorious autumn sunshine on a good firm pitch, conditions were perfect for running rugby and the hordes of spectators were treated to a feast of rugby action.
Carrick kicked off and Coleraine easily gathered to control the opening exchanges. The first 15 minutes was a rather cagey affair with both teams keeping the ball tight. Carrick made a few half-breaks but were easily snuffed out by some good Coleraine tackling. Coleraine responded well, keeping the ball tight initially going through a number of phases with hard running from second row’s Richard Cochrane and William Chestnutt.
Eventually the deadlock was broken when Carrick gave away a penalty within kicking range, and out-half Cameron Jinx held his nerve to convert from about 30 yards out. Both teams battered away at each other for the next 10 minutes until Carrick took the lead through an unconverted try. Coleraine gave up possession after the ball squirted out the side of their own scrum and were slow to re-align their defence.
This gave space for the Carrick No. 8 to trundle round the side of a ruck, then gallop home from about 25 yards out to dive over the whitewash. Carrick looked like they were about to score again minutes later, except for a superb last ditch tackle by full back Peter O’Hara, also winning the penalty when the Carrick player failed to release. Coleraine came more into the game and won a kickable penalty in front of the sticks with 10 minutes to go in the half.
However, a quick tap penalty from scrum half Chris Archibald caught the Carrick defence asleep, and the ball was shifted wide to centre Colin McNay who ghosted through to score under to posts for a cheeky seven pointer. Coleraine, now with their tails up, were beginning to get the better of the Carrick back line and O’Hara burst through from the 22 to run fully 70 metres before being hauled down yards short of the line. This time, Carrick defended well and were able to clear the ball to touch for the half time whistle to bring a temporary halt to proceedings with Coleraine 10-5 up.
The Coleraine team began the second half attempting highlight-reel skill and blind off-loads as only seen on the professional game. However, as the majority of these resulted in forward passes or knock-on’s, no Super 15 contacts will be handed out at this point. Coleraine’s forward pack had an exceptional game, disrupting Carrick at scrum time and the pin point accuracy of hooker Stuart Evans’ throwing led to a soild lineout platform.
With 20 minutes to go, Coleraine scored their second try after a clean line out take ended up in the hands of Andrew Neely who burst through the gain-line, before giving the scoring pass to Stuart Evans to finish a fantastic converted try. Carrick threw everything they could at Coleraine, but the wall stood firm, with centres John McClelland and Colin McNay working well, making some big tackles and pinching turnover ball to hand the impetus back to Coleraine. Carrick conceded a penalty with 6 minutes to go and Jinx calmly slotted the kick from the 10 metre line to make the game safe.
So back to winning ways for the seconds, and a huge improvement on last week. Next up is Ballyclare, the start of 4 home games on the trot against hard opposition, but hopefully this win will restore confidence to go on and make a strong title challenge.
Coleraine 2XV: Peter O’Hara, Stevie Callaghan, Colin McNay, John McClelland, Colin ‘Jet-fighter’ Brown, Cameron Jinx, Chris Archibald, Arnie Hogg, Stuart Evans, Adrian Nevin, William Chestnutt, Richard Cochrane, Harry Tate, Andy Neely, Ronnie Caskey