They say it’s a bad workman that blames his tools and a poor loser always blames the ref but whilst Coleraine’s U15s and 17s made the long trip to Newry on Saturday with the right tools for the job, it was most definitely some strange refereeing decisions that meant both squads narrowly missed out on two away wins.
Regrettably the U13s were unable to put up a full squad for the trip had to settle for granting the points to Newry.
U15s Newry 17 Coleraine 17
A disappointed U15s team felt harshly done by when Newry picked their pocket to snatch a draw towards the end of the game with eight minutes remaining (according to the referee) only to have the ref blow up immediately on Newry’s score. Up to then it was bit of a see-saw game on a soggy pitch with both teams taking turns to dominate, although it looked odds on for Coleraine to exact revenge from their first encounter when a pacy Newry back line did the damage, although Coleraine appeared to have their match.
U17s Newry 25 Coleraine 24
A disappointed Coleraine 17s suffered their first defeat of the season going down to Newry by just one point. In near perfect playing conditions Coleraine started brightly with forwards and backs linking well and only some hesitant link play in the backline spoiled a few early chances. Coleraine eventually opened the scoring after 15 minutes when centre Alistair Irwin added another try to his impressive tally for the season with a trademark run from 30 metres. Newry bounced straight back to take advantage of a poor Coleraine clearing kick and some ineffective tackling saw the home side’s full back try (converted) beneath the posts.
Coleraine rallied and after series of impressive rucks, a quick ball to outhalf Sam Beattie was cleverly kicked for chasing flanker Callum McAleese to gather in and score near the touchline, leaving a fine conversion from Sam Beattie to tip the balance in Coleraine’s favour. The visitors appeared to take the foot off the pedal to hand Newry another score ending the first half 12 points all.
The second half was more of the same but it was Newry to score first and take a 17-12 lead. Coleraine replied with a typical charging run by prop David Whiteside, who touched down to once again level the score. As if taking turns to score, Newry replied with 10 minutes to go taking the lead at 22-17 and must have thought they could close the game out but Coleraine were not for lying down and came back immediately with a superb Stephen Douglas try which Sam Beattie happily converted to bring the score to a narrow two point lead for the visitors with only five minutes remaining.
With the clock ticking in Coleraine’s favour, a missed Newry penalty was fielded by Stephen Douglas who ran out to the edge of the 22 and struck a fine clearing kick only to be strangely called up by the ref for being ahead off his own kick. It was a decision that the referee later admitted was wrong but it was to change the course of the game as Newry gratefully converted the resulting penalty kick to pocket the points with a 25-24 win.
It was a tough loss to take but this is a young side who take every experience as a gain will prepare hard for another away trip next Saturday to Ballyclare. Coaches Daniel McAuley and Seamus Sweeney pointed out some great performances from Ross Wade in the second row who had his best game of the season and Callum McAleese at flanker who is enjoying a welcome return to form and but for a superb cover tackle near the Newry line would have doubled his scoring for the day.
In addition, the front row’s prop David Whiteside and hooker Ruairi Sweeney who is gradually coming back to form after missing two seasons through injury, both put in good shifts. Ben Brown in the second row was also in fine form while in the backline centre Alistair Irwin and wing Chrissy Boreland continued to impress.