On Saturday 1st December 2018 Dungannon’s U14’s welcomed Strabane to a very wet and mucky Stevenson’s Park for a youth league clash the outcome of which would see either team climb or drop from their current mid table position in the Southern League.
With conditions not suitable for fast flowing rugby the pre match team talk was to go out and play a close game with lots of kicking and that’s exactly what they did as they went about their business putting 26 points past Strabane for a reply of zero.
The first try came about when Scrum half Cormac Drayne spotted the Strabane full back out of position and kicked long sending the ball into touch in the corner which put Strabane under the spotlight to clear the danger but good pressure by Reuben Kelly and Jamie Gildernew jumping in the lineout forced a turnover ball that was immediately picked up by Cormac and fired out wide to out half Zak Holmes to launch an attack but Strabane’s back line were up fast and shut down any hope of progress forcing Dungannon to go through several phases and hard carries involving both forwards and backs until Zak eventually worked an overlap to score in the corner 5-0 (conversion missed).
Dungannon’s second try came from a Dungannon attacking scrum in the corner of the field inside the Strabane 22. As the ball was put in and hooked to the base, Brooklyn Fletcher picked and went around the corner, fended off the Strabane Flanker whilst off loading one handed to Cormac to pass out to Zak. As the opposition back line closed quickly, Zac spotted space in behind and kicked cross field over the heads of the on rushing defenders for winger Mathew Loan to run onto, catch the bouncing ball and score. At 12-0 with the extras added by Cormac the remainder of the first half saw play mainly around the centre of the field with some big tackles by Senan, Jamie, Brooklyn and Ben forcing Strabane to adopt a kicking strategy of their own but Dungannon’s Sheehan Fay at fullback was a force to be reckoned with as he made metre upon metre on kick return beating defenders with ease. To end the half Sheehan picked up a kick outside the Dungannon 22m line and beat 4,5 defenders before kicking it in behind forcing his opposite number to concede a lineout deep inside Strabane’s 22m but before Dungannon could exploit the opportunity to finish the first half with more points on the board the referee blew for half time.
For the start of the second half Second Dungannon brought on some big hitters as replacements Thomas, Jake, Eoghan, luuk and Hayden to the field. Right from the off the team was reinvigorated as from the first minute Cormac had kicked us onto the opposition 5m line putting Strabane once again under the spotlight trying to deal with a lineout.
In a similar replay of the first half, Reuben and Jamie jumped to contest and forced an error which resulted in a knock on that saw Zak toeing the ball through and diving in to score. At 19-0 with Cormac again adding the extras, Dungannon began to take command of the game as our defence held firm with Hayden in particular crushing forwards with every tackle and driving them backwards.
Dungannon’s last try was from a great kick from Cormac to Thomas on the wing to chase. In this position Thomas was unstoppable as he outpaced both opposition winger and fullback to pick up the ball and score under the posts effectively ending the game with an easy conversion 26-0