A very competitive game at Randalstown where the home team started like a tornado, Dungannon then took control before a spirited response by the Host’s closed the deficit to one score until Matthew Rodgers sealed Dungannon’s win with his fourteenth point of the game.
Dungannon started fairly disastrously, poor judgment of the wind won Randalstown a scrum that put them on a sustained attack resulting in ex Dungannon player Tony O’Hagan racing over between the posts for Ben McKnight to convert on eight minutes.
7 – 0
Shortly after McKnight missed with a difficult penalty attempt. Some ten minutes later smart work from the colourfully booted Andrew Lee saw him collect a fumbled ball and outpace the defence to run in from fifty metres out. Matthew Rodgers converted with a good kick.
7 – 7
Some rousing attacks by Randalstown were kept at bay thanks mainly to the tackling of Alan Cummings and Dans Gulbis. However the Host’s persisted and sensible use of the ball resulted in a Ben McKnight try wide on the left after half an hour.
12 – 7
From the kick off Dungannon hooker Josh Mens did well to charge down and gain possession of an attempted clearance kick. Fergal Goan quickly sent the ball to the ever willing Matthew Stockdale, who had an impressive game as principal ball carrier; Dans took up the assault and forced Randalstown to infringe. Matthew Rodgers made no mistake with the three points after thirty-three minutes.
12 – 10
The game ebbed and flowed before an impressive break from Alan Cummings took play up to the Randalstown twenty-two where Matthew Stockdale supported by Dans and Cameron Mullan bulled into the home defence. The forceful Jonny O’Neill then made some ground and took more Randalstown players out of the defensive line, from the ruck young Fergal Goan made a dart for the line, when stopped he presented the ball, it went quickly through the hands of Rodgers, Harrison and the returning Jonny Toal to Jordan McIlwaine who showed composure as he beat two men before touching down on forty minutes. Matthew Rodgers converted with another excellent strike.
12 – 17
The second half started well for Dungannon with the latest Dilworth Scholar Harrison collecting the ball on his ten metre line and breaking through three tackles before he was stopped ten metres short of the line Although Dungannon lost the recycled ball a loose kick out of defence by Randalstown was caught close to half way by Jonny Toal. Collecting the ball at full speed JT went for the gap and broke through three tackles before touching down beside the posts for a very good try, Matthew Rodgers converted after forty-three minutes.
12 – 24
More pressure saw Gannon’s skipper Stephen Donaghy cross the line but the ref brought him back for a five metre scrum. From the resultant scrum Lorcan McGrath and Matthew Rodgers fed the onrushing Harrison who burst through the defence to score. Rodgers converted on forty-nine minutes.
12 – 31
Dungannon had another attack rebuffed before Randalstown broke out and only a good scramble defence and a Matthew Smyth tackle kept them out. After a fine bit of work from Randalstown Tony O’Hagan crashed over for his second try of the afternoon on the hour mark.
17 – 31
Some good running by Harrison, Arek and Cathal Mallon brought play into the Randalstown half before we were treated to a phase of play that is best forgotten by some Dungannon players. Collecting the ball on his ten metre line Randalstown hooker Colin Adams ran through more defenders than I would care to remember before touching down beside the Dungannon posts. Ben McKnight goaled the try on seventy minutes.
24 – 31
One score ahead, ten minutes to go and the pressure was mounting on Dungannon. Time for Captain Donaghy to rally the troops. Thankfully they were not found wanting. A loose Randalstown kick was redirected by Donaghy to Josh Mens who ran well passed to Dans before Arek took the ball forward. There was a turnover before Lorcan McGrath, using his head put the ball into the Randalstown twenty-two. The pressure was kept on the home team and Gannon won a penalty on the twenty-two; Big Stevie threw the ball to Rodgers. Having kicked superbly all afternoon Matthew kept his one hundred percent record as he drilled the ball between the posts to give Dungannon some breathing space with three minutes to go
24 – 34
Randalstown attached but the Dungannon defence held to yield a bonus point win.
This was a good performance against a very competitive and competent Randalstown outfit. This was a game where all seventeen Dungannon players contributed especially Matthew Stockdale with his strong carries, Dans Gulbis with his strength on the ball, Alan Cummings’s tireless tackling, Fergal Goan with a busy and promising performance, Matthew Rodger was very sound in all respects, the two Jonnys, O and T with their strong running. Newcomer Harrison who settled in well and showed great attacking ability.
However the real change came with the introduction of Captain Donaghy at half time, he brought a calm assuredness and confidence to our play that put the game beyond Randalstown’s reach.
Team: Matthew Smyth. Andrew Lee, Harrison Dudley-Rode, Jonathan Toal, Jordan McIlwaine. Matthew Rodgers, Fergal Goan. Matthew Stockdale, Joshua Mens, Cathal Mallon. Arek Mikolajczyk, Cameron Mullan, Dans Gulbis, Alan Cummings, Jonny O’Neill. Stephen Donaghy, Lorcan McGrath
Referee: Marcus Malley