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Under-strength Carrick lose to Hinch 2s in Conference League

Posted On: Monday, September 5, 2016

The Maxol-Sponsored Carrick 1st XV began their 2016/17 Leagues campaign with a 23 points to 15 defeat away to Ballynahinch II in the re-named Kukri Ulster Championship/Conference Division 1. It is tempting to suggest that Carrick lost this game as much as their opponents won it. In truth, however, the home side took their chances when they came, albeit aided by a fair bit of good fortune, while Carrick, after a good second quarter, couldn’t turn possession and field position in the second half into scoring opportunities. The game was very much an early season affair with both sides making lots of handling and kicking errors, as well as giving away silly penalties, with the result that, for much of the time, the game simply moved from set piece to set piece. In this context, Carrick had a completely dominant scrum but were unable for the most part to turn this to their advantage. The line-out mis-fired from time to time but Carrick did achieve parity at the break-down. The front five of David McKeen, Gareth McKeown and the returning Paul Greenaway (and Richard Higgins when he came on as hooker after half-time), Mattie Best and Chris Rodgers deserve credit for their scrummaging efforts. The back-row of Andy McKeen, Robbie Williams and Ryan McGonigle carried and tackled well while in the backs winger Ross Crymble was the pick of the performers as an attacking threat. Conor Cambridge also did well in his role of stand-in kicker for Carrick.

The first quarter of the game was dominated by Ballynahinch in terms of territory and possession but because of a combination of poor handling and decision-making and solid Carrick defence they did not take the lead until the end of the quarter when they converted a penalty from straight in front of the posts. After that, Carrick began to take control, aided in no small measure by their scrum dominance, and took the lead in the twenty-fourth minute when Paul Greenaway forced his way as Carrick picked and drove following a line-out inside the home side’s 22. Conor Cambridge added the conversion points to give Carrick a 7 points to 3 lead. The visitors continued to have the better of territory and possession and extended their lead on the stroke of half-time. At a scrum inside the Balynahinch 22, Carrick pushed their opponents off the ball,Ryan McGonigle charged into the heart of their defence to set up a ruck and, when the ball was moved wide, Gareth McKeown was on hand to dive over. This try was not converted and Carrick went into the break leading by 12 points to 3.

After half-time Carrick continued to have the better of possession and territory but could not break down the Ballynahinch defence despite some good individual efforts by Ryan McGonigle, Andy McKeen and Ross Crymble. Then, in the tenth minute of the half the home side got right back into the game when an interception by their speedy left winger on half-way resulted in a try under the posts. This was converted to reduce the deficit to just two points. Ballynahinch then took the lead with a penalty goal five minutes later only for the visitors to re-take the lead shortly afterwards when Conor Cambridge put over a penalty from thirty-five metres out. However, the home side, having spotted the advantage in pace they had on their left wing, made use off this shortly after the kick off. When Carrick lost control of possession just inside their half, the ball was fly-hacked up towards their line and the Ballynahinch winger won the race to the touch-down. The try was not converted but the home side now led by 18 points to 13 after twenty-five minutes of the second half. Two minutes later they conjured up a similar try with a kick up the left hand touch-line although this time the Carrick defence was at fault in not getting down on the ball and the Ballynahinch winger gathered to go over. Again the try was not converted but the home side now led by 23 points to 15. Despite some late Carrick pressure Ballynahinch held on to their lead fairly comfortably for the remainder of the match. Carrick did have the better of field position for most of the last ten minutes but could not hold onto the ball for long enough to create real try-scoring opportunities.

The under-strength Carrick side will not be too disappointed by their defeat in a match they could well have won had the bounce of the ball gone their way- it was certainly a much tighter encounter than the Towns’ Cup match between the two sides in January- but will be looking for a considerable improvement in accuracy and decision-making when they meet Clogher Valley at Tom Simms Memorial Park on Saturday 3rd September in their first Kukri Ulster Championship Division 1 match.

The Carrick team which faced Ballynahinch was:-
M. Black; R. Crymble, N. Hastings, J. Porter, D. Lewis (B. Alexander); J. Wady, C. Cambridge; D. Mckeen, G. McKeown (R. Higgins), P. Greenaway, M. Best, C. Rodgers, R. Williams, A. McKeen (Capt), R. McGonigle.

Next week’s fixtures (Fixtures for Saturday 3rd September at 2.30, unless otherwise stated)
1st XV v Clogher Valley (h)
2nd XV v Bangor 2s (a)
3rd XV v Enniskillen 2s (a)
4th XV – No match
Youth Section v Ballymena (a), 11am
Mini rugby – Training (h), 9.30am


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