Excellent win for Dalriada 1st XV against a strong Down High side

Dalriada hockey.
Dalriada hockey.

Dalriada registered a significant result on Saturday by beating a very good Down High side who travelled to Ballymoney as strong favourites and started the game at a high intensity by scoring within five minutes.

From the kick-off they moved the ball well playing multiple phases involving the whole team until they broke through the Dalriada defence and finished with style under the posts allowing their kicker an easy conversion.

To their credit Dalriada responded in a similar fashion and from slick handling from Angus Johnston and Aaron Sparks, Michael Finnerty was put through a hole and executed a very skilful kick and catch to cross the Down line. Aaron Sparks kicked the conversion easily and despite some excellent rugby from both teams the score remained 7-7 until half time.

Down started the second half in a determined mood to control the game but as a result of a charged down kick by Matthew Christie they found themselves pinned close to their own line and defending under pressure. Hard work by the Dalriada forwards added to the pressure until Scott Gamble used every inch of his reach to stretch for the line and ground the ball for another Dalriada try. Once again Aaron Sparks kicked successfully to give Dalriada the lead again.

This led to a period of control for Dalriada who began to dominate in the loose thanks to excellent work by the back row and John Rankin who seemed to be everywhere. Not surprisingly Down were forced to conced a penalty as a result of the Dalriada pressure and once again Sparks struck confidently for a further 3 points. With only 10 minutes remaining the game looked settled until Down decided to throw caution to the wind and played some high risk rugby.

This paid off for them when they scored an exciting on the right wing and their kicker managed a tough conversion. They followed this up with a long spell of possession and hard driving rugby which yielded a penalty for a Dalriada off-side.

It was at this stage that Angus Johnston had to leave the field with a wrist injury closely followed by captain Michael Finnerty with a knee injury. Down kicked the penalty to tie the game with only three minutes remaining.

Most teams would have settled for a draw but from the kick-off Down decided to attack from deep and as a result of the Dalriada scramble defence were put under pressure and turned over the ball. Matthew Christie, now pressed into playing in the centre collected a loose ball and dived over to put the result beyond doubt and Aaron Sparks finished the game off with his third successful kick.

Dalriada Medallion travelled to play Bangor Grammar School last Saturday.

Having beaten them at home the previous week the Ballymoney boys were keen to maintain

their good form with another win. This time Bangor put up a much stronger fight and in the end Dalriada had to work hard to score a 25 – 10 win.

The Dalriada team had fewer changes due to injury and unavailability. Harry McMeekin and Timmy Marshall came into the front row with Griffin Phillipson moving to hooker. Matthew Beggs got his first start of the season at number eight and Paddy Stewart came in on the right wing.

It was well into the first half before the visitors put points on the board, courtesy of a long range penalty from Ross Fallows. Minutes later, the same player increased the visitor’s lead when he intercepted a loose pass and sprinted clear to score in the corner.

Just before half time Dalriada increased their lead when Matthew Beggs picked up at the base of the scrum and timed his pass perfectly to flanker Luke Cantley who crashed over the line for a well-worked try.

In the second half Dalriada went further ahead when good handling in the backs released Ross Fallows who outpaced their defence for his second try of the game. Captain Connor Creith added the conversion.

To their credit Bangor came back strongly and were rewarded with a try after a period of sustained pressure. This unsettled the visitors who struggled to establish their usual style of flowing rugby. Minutes later Bangor reduced the arrears to ten points when the Dalriada defence struggled to deal with a high ball which resulted in the Bangor winger scoring in the corner. As the game reached a close, centre Stewart Moore intercepted a loose pass in midfield and sprinted clear to score, giving Dalriada a 25 – 10 win.

Although not as convincing as the previous week, this was a good solid win for the Dalriada boys who now look forward to the away match against Limavady Grammar School next Saturday.

On Saturday Dalriada’s Under 14’s welcomed Bangor G.S. The conditions were cold and dry, perfect for running rugby.

Dalriada kicked off to the receiving Bangor G.S. Dalriada put on heavy pressure on the half-back pairing not allowing the Bangor team out of their own half, with strong tackling from the forwards especially Peter Wright, Adam Wright and Jack Murdoch. The Bangor team were exposed on the wings many times but Dalriada failed to convert these opportunities into tries. The first try of the match came from a 50 metre slicing run by Matthew Carton to make it 7-0 with the try being converted by Henry Ross. By now the Dalriada backs were working well together and running their moves and lines well through half-backs Lewis McAuley and Patrick Carson. At scrum time there was great platform secured from the front row, Nathan Philipson, David Dysart and Barry Armstrong. Although Bangor were 7-0 down they kept piling the pressure through their pack who consistently were getting over the gain line. The Dalriada boys reacted to this pressure by Luke Pollock tip-toeing his way down the line only to be caught by the touch line. After this it motivated the Dalriada XV to score and score they did. Matthew Carton weaving through the Bangor defence and breaking tackles made his way under the posts which made the score 14-0. Bangor applied the pressure off the kick-off and after Jacob Fleck fed Matthew Carton for a 70 metre run into the opposition 22. This put Dalriada on the front foot and after fantastic ball retention and superb back play from Thomas Hunter and Henry Ross, Luke Pollock was in the corner just before half-time. The score was 19-0 at half-time.

Bangor kicked the second half off and Conor Clarke claimed the ball from the air and attacked the Bangor Defence. Dalriada were forced to make many changes due to injuries and precautions. Chris Wright and Daniel McCollum were 2 of many subs. Dalriada were pressing deep into the Bangor half and it paid off, due to an unforced error, Thomas Hunter pounced on the ball and made it 26-0 after another great kick from Henry Ross. The Bangor out-half was kicking the ball out of hand most frequently to gain ground but the back 3, Luke Pollock, Khaled Faheem and Chris Wright ran the ball back with confidence. There was tactical kicking from Dalriada out-half Patrick Carson which put the opposition on the back foot. Luke Clements was taking a commanding role at flanker, as Captain in leading his team and was fantastic at the breakdown. As Dalriada made more changes Bangor grew in strength and confidence. Khaled Faheem made some thumping try saving tackles and David Currie was fantastic in the rucks along with Adam McWilliams. Bangor gained a try in dying moments of the game. The try was converted with a brilliant kick from the touchline from the Bangor out-half. The game finished 26-7 to Dalriada.

Dalriada U13 were also at home on Saturday and came up against a very strong Bangor side. Dalriada defended well for a period but the Bangor boys were relentless in their ball retention and attack, scoring after 15 minutes and again 5 minutes later to leave the half-time score at 0-14. Bangor came out in the second half with a renewed intensity and looked a constant threat in attack. Second half injuries and substitutions to an

already depleted team meant the Dalriada men had no response. Bangor scored three second half tries to leave the final score at 0-31.

The under 12 s travelled with the Medallion to Bangor on Saturday morning to play some small sided games with Bangor. The players were all mixed through the two 10 a side teams that Dalriada fielded and the boys got their first opportunity to play with a mini scrum in the game. Both games were played in an excellent spirit with play of competitive purpose. The games were maybe marked for the contrast in styles of play with Dalriada showing a high level of skill and understanding and Bangor relying on their more physical players to complete their scores.

For Dalriada they showed great desire to fight back from being 3-1 in one of the games to come back to be 5-4 up in the last play of the game. There were great performances from James Wright, Thomas Hadden, Ethan Hogg, Jamie Henry and Caleb Moore.

The teams look forward to next week when they take on Limavady Grammar on Friday.