Coleraine secured number one spot in the Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship with a solid win over second place CIYMS on Saturday.
The Coleraine men, sponsored by ‘Cookstown’, notched up a 17-8 win over their Belfast based rivals and now have a six point and one game advantage in the league.
Next up is Randalstown this weekend and an away match that will pose a serious challenge for Coleraine.
After the game Coleraine’s head coach Richard Boyd said: “I am delighted we got the four points today and I am really proud of the boys and the character they demonstrated.
“This was always going to be a nervy and tight game but I thought we really stepped up to the mark and took control in the second half. It was important to win today. Our aim was to stop CI getting any league points from this game and we achieved that.
“I thought the pack deserve a lot of credit today, with our scrum and maul again giving us an edge against a massive CI pack. I thought our back row were outstanding with Bonnar, Dickey and Christie all showing how valuable they are to the side.
“CIYMS are a very good side and played a high tempo, very physical game. We were ill disciplined and kicked poorly in the first half and that allowed CI to gain territory and also get their dangerous back three into the game.
“However, I thought our defence stood firm for the majority of the game and we showed great composure at times to get ourselves out of trouble.”
Looking ahead, Richard continued: “We finish this block of fixtures off next weekend against a tough Randalstown side who have been in good form of late. This will be a stern test for the squad and we will have to improve our kicking game and line-out if we want to get another win.
“We then have a well deserved week off and four home games in a row to look forward to. Training numbers have been excellent and it is important we keep working hard to ensure our Firsts and Seconds keep this momentum going.”
In the game Coleraine were first out of the blocks and within minutes they pressed home their advantage, Bokkie Carstens sprinting over the line for the try. Alan Clarke secured the extra points with a well struck conversion. 7-0
The visitors were not to be outdone and their intense attack soon yielded a penalty, successfully converted by Nathan Burns. 7-3
Coleraine missed two penalty opportunities, Mikey Poskitt’s long range attempt falling just short, Clarke’s closer attempt hitting the post.
With 23 minutes on the clock CI were again on the offensive and an overlap saw Jason Gilliland score in the corner. Burns saw his conversion go wide. 7-8
As the half came to a close the visitors again missed out on a penalty opportunity.
In the second half CI came back with a concerted attack. The Coleraine defence stood firm and when they countered CI conceded a penalty. Clarke made sure of the points. 10-8
Ten minutes later Coleraine were again on the attack and as the pack forced though the defensive lines Coleraine’s man of the match, Josh Christie, battled through and sprinted away to score under the posts. Clarke converted. 17-8
Both sides attacked in the closing stages of the match but there was no further score.
Coleraine Seconds also had a successful day, away to CIYMS Seconds, and came away with an impressive 48-0 win to strengthen their position at the top of their league.
This weekend the Firsts travel to Randalstown in the Championship and will be looking to consolidate their league leading position. The Seconds are home to Clogher Valley and the Thirds entertain Larne.