Coleraine kept control of the Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship with a bonus point win over Larne at the weekend.
The ‘Cookstown’ sponsored Bannsiders dominated the game but, despite the 52-5 winning margin, there were some lacklustre periods which coach Richard Boyd will no doubt address in training this week.
Larne played a spirited game but, in the end, they had no answer to the Coleraine scrum and attacking finesse.
The win also saw Coleraine retain the Emile Trophy, an annual award for the aggregate winner between Coleraine and Larne. The Cup, first played for in 1936, again sits proudly in the Coleraine trophy cabinet.
This week sees the second in a four-week home game stint and this time the visitors are fourth-placed Belfast side Academy. This will be another challenge for captain Mikey Poskitt’s men and one that they will approach enthusiastically.
In the game on Saturday, Larne started strongly, attacking the Coleraine 22 and being rewarded with a penalty within five minutes of the kick off. The attempt drifted wide.
Coleraine were undeterred and launched a strong attack that was stopped temporarily at the Larne line before scrum-half Rhyss McAuley nipped over for the touch-down. Alan Clarke was on target with the conversion. 7-0
Coleraine centre Bokkie Carstens pulled up with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Danny Ramage who relished his opportunity to play outside his normal forwards position.
With 18 minutes on the clock the Coleraine backline attacked deep into the visitor’s territory. The supporting pack took over and rumbled across the line, Josh Christie scoring the try. Clarke again converted. 14-0
Coleraine were again on the attack with a series of pulsating phases in the Larne 22 when Brian Hughes was yellow carded. Within minutes, Steven Dickey joined him in the sin bin and Larne took full advantage of their numerical supremacy to attack and score in the corner. The conversion was off-target. 14-5
As Coleraine regained numbers, a striking break from captain Mikey Poskitt gained ground and the supporting Michael Ferguson was on hand to power through the final defenders and score an unconverted try. 19-5
As the half drew to a close Coleraine again attacked, the ball moving across the backline. Dickey was on hand to collect the ball and brush aside all defensive tackles to score beside the posts. Clarke converted. 26-5
As the second half started, Coleraine were immediately on the offensive, attacking from a set-piece throw in, Josh Christie making the final push and scoring his second of the day. The conversion went wide. 31-5
Not content with this tally, it was again Christie to score 15 minutes into the half, finishing off a spirited attack, breeching the defensive lines and touching down for his hat trick. Poskitt converted. 38-5
The next score went to Poskitt following a great sprint through the Larne lines by Dickey, off-loading to the supporting captain. Poskitt fought his way past several defenders to score. Clarke converted. 45-5
The final score came to No8 Brian Hughes, a massive Coleraine scrum rolling across the line and Hughes getting the touch. Clarke did the honours with the conversion. Final score 52-5
The bonus point victory leaves Coleraine on 54 points, seven clear of closest rivals CIYMS and still with a game in hand.
This week the visitors are Academy, currently on 36 points, behind third place Grosvenor on 44.
In Saturday’s only other game, Coleraine Seconds were convincing 39-7 winners against Banbridge 3s in the league. They also retain top spot in the Provincial League, Div 2, two points ahead of Portadown.