Coleraine produced a dominating display of rugby when Dromore came to town on Saturday, winning 36-9 and picking up a bonus point into the bargain.
It was a reversal of the defeat in October at Dromore and Richard Kernohan’s men made no major errors as they stamped their authority on proceedings this time round. They took the lead early on and in the second half secured a valuable bonus point, closing the gap to fifth placed Portadown to one point.
The Cookstown sponsored Coleraine team will be bolstered by the performance and it will give them some confidence as they meet league topping Clogher Valley on Tuesday, 28 February, in a rearranged fixture to be played under lights at Coleraine. The coach has targeted this match as an opportunity to show the strength of the side which so nearly took victory in Tyrone earlier in the season.
On Saturday Coleraine took an early lead when David Andrews popped the ball to Brian Cochrane just into the Dromore 22 on 14 minutes. He cut a great line through the Dromore defence and scored under the posts. Andrews converted to give a 7-0 lead.
Ten minutes later Cochrane again scored. A period of strong Coleraine forward play brought them close to the line. With the defence tied up the ball moved swiftly out to Cochrane on an overlap and he scored in the corner. The conversion was just wide.
Dromore were not cowed. Five minutes later they fought their way inside the Coleraine 22 and Stewart was on target with the first of three penalties in the latter part of the first half.
The visitors kept up the pressure and two further forays into Coleraine territory yielded penalties, one converted by Stewart and another from the half way line converted by Steenson. The score at the break was 12-9 to Coleraine.
Within three minutes of the restart Coleraine scored again. A concerted Coleraine attack again set the scene for the ball to cross the backline, setting up Alan Gourley for a score in the corner. The conversion was just off target.
Eight minutes into the half Coleraine were again encamped on the Dromore lines. From a five metre scrum Kenny Calladine picked and drove over the line to score, again unconverted.
With ten minutes left Calladine again scored as he forced his way over the line from a lineout deep in Dromore territory. Andrews claimed the extras.
Five minutes later Niall Irwin made a spirited break through the Dromore defence, popped the ball to David Ferguson as he was tackled, setting the hooker up for a score under the posts. Andrews converted bringing the final score to Coleraine 36 Dromore 9.
In a final twist to the game a bemused Andrews was yellow carded with only a few minutes to go, after a Coleraine infringement and some discussion with the referee.
In the end it was a good day for Coleraine and the side are now looking forward to next Tuesday’s encounter with Clogher Valley, kick off 7.45pm. There is no game for the Firsts this weekend.
The Seconds had no game at the weekend, the opposition pitch being waterlogged. This weekend, 25 February, they take on Bangor Seconds in the Crawford Cup, at home, a match well worth supporting, so some along, lend your support and enjoy a great game.
In the only other game at the weekend Coleraine Thirds lost out to Bangor Seconds 12-16.
Coleraine First XV: S Jefferson, D Ferguson, M Hunter, W Hunt, P Bogle (Stirling), S Dickey, A Neely, K Calladine, S Simpson, G Jordan (Van Wyk), A Gourley, D Andrews, D Orr, N Irwin, B Cochrane. Subs: A Stirling, T Van Wyk
COLERAINE INCREASE DROMORE CONCERNS
Coleraine’s 36-9 home victory over Dromore, in the Kukri League, on Saturday, has done nothing to lessen relegation fears for the Co. Down XV, who remain locked in a basement battle for survival in Section One, with Limavady and Academy.
The Sandel Lodge boys had subsided tamely to defeat at Dromore early in the season but any likelihood of a similar outcome in this return fixture had disappeared within minutes of the start of the second half when right wing Alan Gourley touched down for his side’s 3rd try.
A young Dromore side had played the first half at a cold and wet Lodge Road, with a strongish wind at their backs and began positively, retaining possession through several phases, deep in home territory. Disciplined defending however, kept the scoreline blank and when the visitors were penalised at a ruck in the 9th minute, a sharp break by the lively Stuart Simpson carried play close to the Dromore 22.. Quick ball followed from the ruck and Brian Cochrane combined sweetly with his supplier David Andrews to slice through the midfield defence and run in unopposed. Andrews converted. 7-0.
The home side, having witnessed the nullifying effect the wind was exerting on even the formidable Andrews’ boot, made every attempt to keep the ball in hand at this stage, but Dromore worked hard, particularly in defence and invariably extracted a handling error from their hosts.
Coleraine had to wait until the 25th minute before adding to the total and it was Simpson again who instigated the score, reacting quickly to dive on a ball spilled by Dromore, on the visitors’ 22. The attack first moved right with David Ferguson and Kenny Calladine both featuring strongly and then, as one or two players on both sides became distracted at a ruck 5 metres out from the line, Coleraine spun the ball left and good handling was rewarded with a second try for Cochrane. 12-0.
The threat of relegation dents confidence and it was now imperative, from their point of view, that Dromore quickly registered some points on the board. No problem. The home scrum was penalised 3 minutes later and out half Stewart struck a 40 metre kick between the posts. 12-3.
A kick to the corner by Andrews, following a penalty award set up a drive for the line by the pack and a try was a distinct possibility but Dromore dug in and earned a penalty with Stewart’s kick bringing play back to half-way. It signalled a period of pressure by the visitors and Stewart converted a 30 metre penalty in the 35th minute with scrum half
Steenson raising spirits further in bringing the first half to a close via a successful penalty from just outside the home 22. H.T. 12-9.
Sadly for Dromore that was as good as it got for them.
Five minutes into the half Steven Dickey, Ferguson and Carradine all carried strongly before the threequarters were brought into play and sharp handling sent Gourley over in the right hand corner for an unconverted try. 17-9. 10 minutes later, in the 55th minute, when Dromore were penalised, Andrews found the corner with a fine kick. The forwards drove over the line from the resultant lineout and although Calladine could not convince the referee that he had scored, the same player picked at the base of the 5metre scrum and ploughed over for a well deserved try. 22-9.
The home XV had now secured a bonus point for the second week in succession and with injuries hampering the Dromore response it was not surprising that two of the best performers on the day, Calladine and Ferguson increased the try tally to a total of six with Greg Jordan adding the conversions. F.T. 36-9.
So Coleraine remain in contention for a top half finish in the league and, depending on All- Ireland play-off results, earning another crack, next season, at the All- Ireland Junior Cup. There is also the incentive, of course, of attempting to lower the colours of title chasers Cooke and Clogher Valley both of whom face the Sandel Lodge team in the coming weeks . First up will be a visit by the team from Fivemiletown and a big crowd will be expected for that midweek game, scheduled for Tuesday 28th Feb.
Subs; Van Wyk.T and Stirling.A. (both played)