1st XV champions of Kukri Qualifying League 2
Posted On: Monday, April 4, 2016
1st XV v Coleraine (a)
The Maxol-Sponsored Carrick 1st XV won the Kukri Qualifying League Section 2 with a 23 points to 11 victory away at Coleraine on Saturday 2nd April. Needing to win and deny their opponents a losing bonus point to make sure of the title, Carrick did just that with one of their best performances of the season. They dominated possession for long periods and , especially in the second half, made Coleraine play a lot of their rugby in their own half of the field. Carrick did not kick away possession as they had in a number of recent games – the kicking by the half-backs was intelligent throughout – and they competed fiercely at the break-down. Their line-out was rock solid and they managed to steal a number of the Coleraine throws. While the scrum was under pressure at times , even that problem had been sorted by the end of the game. Above all, Carrick displayed a steely resolve throughout; even when the home side drew level early in the second half, they did not panic, stuck to their game plan and created the winning scores. All seventeen players gave everything but if individuals have to be picked out then the two veterans, Andy Kinkaid and Aaron McKinney, contributed massively – Kinkaid with his efforts in the loose and the line-out and McKinney for his defensive work and for popping up as he has so often over the years in the right place to score a vital try. Andy McKeen was a tower of strength in the line-out and carried well as did his back-row compatriot Ryan McGonigle. Ross and Neal Marsden, aided and abetted by Neil Hanna, made regular nuisances of themselves at ruck and maul while prop Johnny McIlwaine finished an excellent debut season with another strong performance in the scrum and in the loose. The half-backs Luke Whittal and Conor Cambridge had very good games and their selective line kicking helped keep Coleraine penned in their own territory. Centre Ryan Bailey had one of his best games for Carrick, breaking the line on a number of occasions and he and his partner Reece Hamilton defended solidly.
After a nervy opening period, Coleraine took the lead with a penalty after a rare defensive lapse by Carrick allowed them to break the line and take play deep into the visitors’ 22. However, Carrick began to settle into their game and took the lead in the thirteenth minute with a try from Andy Kinkaid. The move started with a run off the back of a scrum by Ryan McGonigle, with the ball being moved right and left with backs and forwards handling before Conor Cambridge had a dart at the line; when he was stopped Kinkaid gathered and forced his way past three defenders to score. The conversion attempt by Luke Whittal came back off the post but Carrick now led by 5 points to 3. For the next ten minutes or so matters were fairly even with neither side able to set up scoring opportunities. At the start of the second quarter, the home side regained the lead with a long range penalty but Carrick were now beginning to get the lion’s share of possession and regained the lead with a Luke Whittal penalty after thirty minutes. The half ended with a lengthy period of Carrick pressure in and around the Coleraine 22 but the home side held out to go into half-time trailing by 8 points to 6.
Carrick started the second half strongly and just four minutes in increased their lead with another Luke Whittal penalty. Coleraine then had one of their best periods of the game and this culminated in a try when they cleverly wheeled a 5-metre scrum and drove over in the corner after ten minutes of the half. The try was not converted leaving the scores tied at 11 points apiece. However, Carrick were not about to let the game get away from them and began to apply pressure of their own. Following a line break by Ryan Bailey on the twenty minute mark, Luke Whittal found an excellent touch inside the Coleraine 22; Carrick then stole the Coleraine throw and set up a series of drives at the end of which Johnny McIlwaine touched down for a try. Luke Whittal put over an excellent conversion from wide out and Carrick now led by 18 points to 11. Then just two minutes later, Carrick got the score the needed to take the home side out of bonus point range. After they had won a turnover and gone through several phases, Luke Whittal put in a lovely chip over the Coleraine defence and Aaron Mckinney raced onto it to score in the corner. The try was not converted but Carrick now had a 23 points to 11 lead. The remainder of the game was largely dominated by Carrick, with Coleraine desparately trying to attack from inside their own half when they did get their hands on the ball and for some of the time having to scramble to keep the visitors from adding to their score. Twice Andy Kinkaid split open the Coleraine defence but on the first occasion the final pass did not go to hand and on the second Kinkaid’s grubber kick for the chasing Carrick backs just drifted into touch. With Coleraine firmly penned in their own half, the game ended with Carrick once again in possession and delighted to put the ball into touch to take victory and the title.
This was a fine Carrick performance to win the title – it is not clear if it ends the season as the away game with Enniskillen may have to be played as it has bearing join second place – and provides a fitting end to the Club’s 150th Anniversary season. The team have been a credit to President Bill Crymble and his fellow officers and, especially to coach Neil Hanna. Having topped the League from early in the season, remaining unbeaten until the lapse against Academy in February, a few signs of nerves had begun to creep in during recent games but all of that was banished on Saturday when the team produced one of their best performances of the season.
The team which faced Coleraine was:-
A. McKinney; M. Black, R. Bailey, R. Hamilton, P. Simpson; L. Whittal, C. Cambridge; A. Gibney (D. McKeen), N. Hanna, J. McIlwaine, C. Rodgers, A. Kinkaid, A. McKeen, N. Marsden (R. Marsden), R. McGonigle (Capt).
4th XV v Coleraine 3s (a)
Carrickfergus 4 XV took on Coleraine 3rds up the North Coast. The Reapers team showed an unusual lack of desire to dominate and with that Coleraine took advantage and scored first. Carrick battled but the lack of tempo, a man in the bin and a Coleraine team wanting the points more the result was always going one way. Coleraine victory 26-12 and the league title as good as gone.
Worth a mention were some good individual efforts from Chris Taylor, Clarke Blair and Skinny, Clarke receiving man of match. The Reapers captain may sort out the team mojo before the Butler shield final in three weeks time.
2nd XV defeated Coleraine 2s 27-0 (match report to follow)
3rd XV beat their nearest league rivals Instonians 3s 12-5 to secure the Junior 5 title and will be hoping to go through the whole season unbeaten.
Next week’s fixtures (Fixtures for Saturday 9th April at 2.30, unless otherwise stated)
1st XV – No match
2nd XV – No match
3rd XV v Grosvenor 3s (a)
4th XV v Academy 3s (h)
Find the Joker
In the midst of all the celebrating at the weekend, the Joker was found at card number 49 winning David Ferris the jackpot of £1,365. Harry Ritchie won the voucher for the Albany Restaurant; Barry McMurtry won the meat voucher and Glen McCord won the crepes voucher.