RUGBY: Firsts are climbing high

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COLERAINE are still aiming for a top four finish to the league after a fine win against Portadown on Saturday.

It was a hard fought and fast paced game, both sides unrelenting in defence and attack, and it was well into the second half before the winning margin was established. Coleraine performed strongly, were reduced to 14 men for a time, but in the second half they dominated the session to produce the win.

The Coleraine management were delighted with the result. Assistant coach Norman Blair said after the match: “It was a great team effort and we are delighted to take the points. It was a very important match for us.

“In the first half we made some simple errors but the defence, even when we went down to 14 men, was very strong. The second half performance was much stronger and in the end I think we were the better side on the day and deserved the win.”

Prior to the match both teams observed a minute’s silence in memory of former Fifths captain John Blair and club stalwart Roy McGarvey, who both recently passed away.

During the match the first scoring opportunity fell to the visitors after eight minutes of concerted pressure. A 25 metre penalty attempt fell short and Coleraine quickly cleared their lines.

Coleraine defended well and attacked as the opportunity arose. With 20 minutes on the clock Greg Jordan took advantage of a penalty from 30 metres and picked up the first three points of the encounter.

Coleraine kept the pressure on the visitors and four minutes later Jordan had another scoring opportunity. The well judged kick struck the cross bar and rebounded into play.

Portadown had a number of opportunities as the first half drew to a close. They miss-kicked a simple kick to touch and lost their attacking advantage but claimed three points from a penalty a few minutes later.

The penalty came after Coleraine hooker David Ferguson was shown the yellow card for an infringement as Coleraine fought to defend against a concerted attack.

Portadown kept the pressure on but Coleraine defended strongly and even turned things to their own advantage, a great clearance from their own 22 leading to a promising attack. Jordan had another penalty opportunity from 35 metres but was just wide as the whistle ended the half, the score three-all.

Coleraine were fired up when play resumed and went on the offensive immediately. They were awarded a penalty within two minutes but again the Jordan effort drifted just wide.

The home side maintained the pressure throughout the second half, allowing little room for Portadown to mount any credible attack.

With 25 minutes of the half gone Coleraine mounted a ferocious attack on the Portadown lines. Phase after phase saw the forwards punch into the defence as the attack moved from wing to wing.

In the end it was Adam Parke who made the final few inches and crashed through the remaining defence in the corner for five points. The conversion from the wing was just slightly off-target.

Portadown never gave up but in the end Coleraine held on for a very satisfying 8-3 victory and four valuable league points.

In other matches the results were: Portadown Seconds 37 Coleraine Seconds 27, Coleraine Thirds 28 Academy Seconds 7 and Portadown Fourths 19 Coleraine Fourths 5.

On Saturday, February 19, Limavady visit Coleraine in the qualifying league.

Coleraine: S Jefferson, D Ferguson, J Carey, P Bogle, W Hunt, R Gibson, B Mullan, S Dickey, G Jordan, B Cochrane, A Parke, C Barber, N Irwin, N Patterson. Subs: S Patterson, A Hogg.