Coleraine lost out to Dromore in the Qualifying League on Saturday and had to make do with a losing bonus point in the end.
The first half saw Dromore dominate as the home side struggled to find form and despite a resurgence in the second period, Coleraine were just unable to secure enough points for a win.
Coleraine coach Richard Beggs was disappointed with the result but praised the effort shown by his players. He said: “We have been facing a massive list of injuries this season and today yet again we had people playing out of position and playing into the firsts for the first time.
“We showed the lack of match practice with today’s squad and it took a while for them to settle down. I was pleased to see so much effort from everyone; they all played their hearts out.
“We had chances but we just missed out on turning them into points. In the second half we were much more positive.
“More worrying was losing Stephen Best and Ali Chambers to injury and we will be looking closely at their recovery in the next weeks. They are added to the long list of injuries, some of them long term, with people out for months.
“We have no game this weekend and that should give us the chance to recover a bit. It has been a hard physical season so far and a bit of rest will help everyone.
“Looking ahead we go to Cooke on the Saturday before Christmas and we will be targeting that for a win. Then we have Ballymoney at home on 28 December which will be a big game for us and we will be looking to have a strong side that day.”
The Dromore game started with the visitors securing a penalty within two minutes of the start, only to have it go wide. Five minutes later the dominant visiting pack secured their first try when the rolling maul forced their way over the line for an unconverted try.
Ten minutes later Dromore were on target for a penalty and with 24 minutes on the clock the visiting pack forced a path to the line and the No8 peeled off to score. The conversion proved to be the final points for the visitors.
Just before the break Coleraine attacked deep into the Dromore half, the forwards setting the platform for Brian Cochrane to rip through the defence and offloading to Jonny Henderson for a great try in the corner. The score at the break was Coleraine 5-15 Dromore.
As the second half began Chris Breadon replaced Stephen Best who suffered a shoulder injury and a short time later Jonny Warke replaced the injured Ali Chambers, both replacements making their debut for the firsts.
With both sides attacking, Dromore had the first penalty opportunity after 20 minutes only to see the ball drift off-target. Seven minutes later it was Coleraine’s turn but Carstens’ attempt also drifted wide.
Coleraine thought they had levelled things when Mikey Poskitt made a brilliant jinking run through the defence to touch down under the posts. The referee was close at hand and disallowed the try. indicating a double movement.
With only a few minutes left Coleraine were again on the attack and Scott Moffatt was narrowly beaten to the ball before a penalty was awarded. Carstens was on target and brought Coleraine to bonus point territory.
In the dying minute of the game Dromore had another penalty award but luckily for Coleraine they again were off-target. The game ended and Coleraine had to be satisfied with a single bonus point.
The Firsts have a week off and are back in action at Cooke on 21 December, then the big local derby match at Coleraine against Ballymoney on 28 December.
On Saturday the Seconds lost 20-10 at Carrickfergus. This week the Seconds are away to CIYMS Seconds in the Crawford Cup and the Thirds are at home to Grosvenor Thirds.
Coleraine First XV: S Best, R Smyth, M Hunter, S McLean, D Ramage, K Greenlaw, A Neely, B Mullan, B arstens, A Chambers, A Barr, M Poskitt, B Cochrane, S Moffatt, J Henderson. Subs: C Breadon, J Warke