COLERAINE made a strong bid for the Junior Cup when they took the honours against Clogher Valley on Saturday.
Both sides were hampered by persistent rain and in the end the Bannsiders came away with a hard fought 18-13 victory. Details of the next round, to be played on November 12, will be released later in the week.
On Monday coach of the Cookstown sponsored First XV, Richard Kernohan, said: “The game against Clogher Valley was a good job for us. It puts us back on track as we come up to the Tuam AIL game.
“Our training this week is going to focus very much on the positives from Saturday and where we can improve for this week’s game. One of the main factors is coming through this week with no injuries and being able to bring a bit more stability to our game.
“We are looking forward to the challenge of playing against one of the top Connacht sides. We know little about them but we are expecting a big pack and a lot drive and determination in attack.
“The Coleraine side all performed really well on Saturday but we maybe missed out on a couple of good scoring opportunities. We continue to focus on one game at a time, this week the cup match and then away to Ballymoney in the league the following week.
On Saturday, from the start, both teams were eager to stamp their authority on the game and the opening exchanges soon resulted in scores.
First on the scoreboard were the visitors. With only six minutes gone, a spirited attack saw Coleraine tied up in midfield and the resulting overlap allowed Clogher Valley to score in the corner. The conversion was on target.
Coleraine were not downhearted and began an immediate attack from the restart. The forwards forged deep into the Clogher 22, creating a platform for the backs.
The ball was moved across the backline and into the hands of Nial Irwin, travelling at speed and determined to score. His try in the corner left David Andrews with a difficult conversion but he was on target to level the scores at 7-all.
In the next ten minutes, three penalty opportunities were Coleraine’s reward for persistent attack. Andrews picked up three points with the first attempt. The other two were tantalisingly close but just off target.
Clogher Valley claimed three points to level the score again after a high tackle yielded a penalty.
With five minutes to go Coleraine scored again. The pack pressured the visitor’s lines and after several phases the ball was released to the backs.
Scrum half Stuart Simpson fed the ball to Andrews and on to Tommy van Wyk who marked his return to the Firsts with a well worked charge and try for five points. The conversion went just wide.
From the restart Clogher Valley raced into the home 22. A penalty award saw them claim their final three points of the match.
Just on half time Andrews had another penalty chance but again was off target, leaving the half time score Coleraine 15 Clogher Valley 13.
In the second half both sides created scoring opportunities but neither capitalised on them. With 25 minutes of the half gone Coleraine came very close with Steven Jefferson almost crossing the line but the opportunity ended with a penalty for the visitors to relieve the pressure.
Five minutes from time Andrews claimed the final three points with a 30 metre penalty, after Jefferson was stamped on in the loose.
The final score was Coleraine 18 Clogher Valley 13 and Coleraine move on to the next round of the Millar, McCall and Wylie Junior Cup next month.
Attention this week turns to Tuam and the All Ireland Cup competition. Coleraine entertain Tuam in the first round of the cup and a hard fought encounter is anticipated. Kick-off is at 2.30pm.
In other matches the results were Coleraine Seconds 24 Carrick Seconds 12 and Lisburn Thirds 5 Coleraine Thirds 15.
Coleraine First XV: L George, D Ferguson, S Jefferson, P Bogle, J Gault, A Gourley, R Gibson, S Dickey, S Simpson, D Andrews, A Barr, T Van Wyk, N Hall, N Irwin, B Cochrane. Subs: A Stirling, P Roxborough