Coleraine were convincing bonus point winners in Saturday’s league fixture against a very competitive Academy at Rugby Avenue.
The final score line of 40-7 indicates the difference in the sides on the day and the win moves Coleraine into third place in Division Two of the Kukri Qualifying League, one behind Larne and six adrift of table-toppers Carrickfergus.
The league is a close run thing at present with five teams all within ten points, Randalstown one behind Coleraine and Enniskillen two further away. A tight league was promised and it is still all to play for, for all the teams.
On Saturday the “Cookstown” sponsored Bannsiders were up for a strong performance and they certainly provided it. Speaking after the game coach Stephen Douglas said: “All in all it was another dominant performance from Coleraine who are proving that they are a side to be reckoned with this season. The question on everyone’s lips is can they make it three wins from three when they visit League leaders Carrickfergus in a fortnight’s time?”
In the game Coleraine dominated the opening proceedings thanks to an accurate and sustained aerial bombardment from the boots of the impressive half-back pairing, Cameron Fulton and Bokkie Carstens. Camped deep inside their own half, Academy’s ill-discipline resulted in a succession of penalties which Coleraine’s Captain Mikey Poskitt coolly converted into points from the kicking tee. 6-0
The Bannsiders once again found themselves inside the opposition half and from the line out, Coleraine’s pack were able to set up an effective rolling maul under the stewardship of the ever present Brian Hughes. With a strong bridgehead established, Coleraine’s backs showed their class with some intricate interplay which allowed speedster Alan Clarke to touch down in the corner. Poskitt calmly added the extras leaving the score line at 13-0 with 20 minutes played.
Unfortunately for Academy, Coleraine showed no signs of slowing down. The Bannsider’s formidable pack continued to force Academy onto the back foot and moments later, out-half Carstens seared through the opposition’s defensive line before wrong-footing the hapless fullback and scoring under the posts. Poskitt once again converted the points to increase Coleraine’s lead. 20-0
With Academy struggling to take any foothold on the game, the Bannsiders quickly found themselves in the opposition half for yet another foray. Coleraine’s Greg Neely and Daniel Ramage were proving to be a thorn in the side of the opposition with their relentless work at the tackle area and the breakdown.
On the 25 minute mark, the pair combined again to force Academy into giving away yet another penalty. Poskitt duly converted leaving the score line at 23-0.
The Bannsider’s relentless streak continued. Once more under pressure inside their own half, Academy’s discipline seemed to be disintegrating rapidly and a multitude of penalties gave the referee no choice but to show the yellow card leaving the opposition with 14 men.
With Academy’s backs against the ropes, Poskitt opted to kick for the corner. From the lineout, Coleraine’s pack set up yet another powerful rolling maul resulting in Neely touching down. 28-0
To Academy’s credit, they rallied and lifted their performance in the final 10 minutes of the first half. After putting multiple phases together deep in Coleraine’s half, Richard Henderson stormed his way over to claim Academy’s first points in the game. Out-half Chris Cooper coolly added the extras leaving the score at 28-7 to Coleraine at half time.
Academy started the second half of the game with a renewed sense of vigour and put Coleraine under pressure from the outset. With most of the rugby being played inside the Bannsider’s half, it was a moment of brilliance from the unrelenting Neely-Ramage axis which lead to Coleraine’s next and all important fourth try.
In typical fashion, Neely ripped the ball from the opposition’s grasp before linking with the omnipresent Ramage who made inroads deep into the opposition half before unselfishly offloading to Carstens who scored his second try of the game. Yet again, Poskitt converted. 35-7
Again, Academy refused to lie down and the remainder of the game proved to be a bruising affair played mostly in the Bannsider’s half. Academy’s scrum was proving to be a handful, however Coleraine’s defence remained resolute and the opposition were left feeling frustrated on more than one occasion.
Coleraine’s final sortie came courtesy once more from ‘Man of the Match’ Carstens who charged down the opposition winger’s attempt to kick, collected the ball and raced over the whitewash to claim his hat trick . Final score: Coleraine 40-7 Academy.
In other games Coleraine 2s lost out away to Dromore, 14-5 whilst Coleraine 3s lost out at home 7-20 to Academy 3s.
This weekend the Firsts have no game, the Seconds are home to Rainey 3s in the Crawford Cup and the Thirds are away to Carrick 4s.