Dungannon were unlucky not to take a share of the spoils when two evenly matched sides met at Stevenson Park on Saturday afternoon. Blackrock, who came down from 2A at the end of the season, were more than happy to get their campaign off to a winning start. The hosts had difficulties at the outset with two players not available leaving coach, Andy Hughes to adjust his line-up. That said, midway through the second half Mark Faloon, who was held up by a rerouted plane, arrived to take his place in the centre.
As forecast, heavy rain greeted the kick-off and both sides had to be careful as defences were tested in the nervous opening minutes. Fullback, Andrew McGregor then lit up the scene with a dazzling run and a try in the corner on 8 minutes. The conversion was missed but Dungannon were off to a superb start. Blackrock retorted and Dungannon were pinged for ‘holding’ with Peter Quirke firing over the resultant penalty to make it 5-3. The Dubliners were already showing signs of settling and while Dungannon excelled at scrum time it was less than satisfactory in the lineout. However, with Rock commanding a higher percentage of possession it came as no surprise when Agis Hurley crossed the line for Quirke to convert midway through the half. Encouraged by the 5 point lead Rock kept the pressure on. Dungannon defended well but another penalty this time for a high tackle saw Quirke step up to the tee. His attempt smacked off a post and the hosts were able to clear the danger. At the other end with the Dungannon pack going well Glenn Sinnamon and Peter Doran went close over several phases. In the end Adam Evans launched a diagonal kick and a super catch by Harrison Dudley-Rode saw him crash over in the corner. McGregor landed a magnificent conversion and Dungannon led 12-10 at the break.
Rock applied pressure as the second half got underway before John Russell cleared the danger with a notable line kick. Back came the Dubliners and using their pack laid siege to the Dungannon line. It was n’t pretty but it helped Rock to get back in front when prop Paul McSweeney was mauled over the line for Quirke to convert on 55 minutes. Amidst the continuous rain
Dungannon applied pressure in the final quarter. On several occasions the ref offered penalties but Dungannon seemed to take wrong options. In the end the ball was cleared downfield and when the final whistle blew Dungannon finished at the wrong end of a 17-12 score line. At least a losing bonus point was salvaged.
Dungannon:- Glenn Sinnamon, Daniel Maxwell, Sean O’Hagan, Stephen Todd, Peter Doran, David Leyburn, Adam Milligan, Alexander Gormley, Jack Ravey, Ammon Moller, Harrison Dudley-Rode, Mark Faloon, Matthew Montgomery, Johnny Toal, Andrew McGregor, Jamie McNeill, James Gamble, Cameron Steenson, John Russell, Connor McGeough.
Blackrock:- Paul McSweeney, Nolan Pye, Joe Byrne, Brian Cawley, Hugh Doyle, Colm Gallagher, James Burke, Matthew Cosgrove, Mark Edwards, Peter Quirke, John Gallagher, Agis Hurley, Lucas Heinrich, Roghan McMahon, Brian Colclough, Mark O’Brien, Andrew Savage, Jack Stapleton, Mark Godfrey, Aaron O’Sullivan.