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Carrick drop to 8th in league

Posted On: Monday, January 16, 2017

The Maxol-sponsored Carrick 1st XV were beaten by 20 points to 9 by Cooke at Shaw’s Bridge on Saturday 14h January, a defeat which means that Cooke move above Carrick who drop to eighth place in the League, level on points with ninth placed Dromore. The Belfast side thoroughly deserved their victory, controlling territory and possession for seventy minutes and coming under sustained pressure only in the closing minutes as Carrick pressed for the try which would have given them a losing bonus point. For once, the Carrick scrum was under pressure and, until the closing stages, they could not manage any sustained periods of possession inside their opponents’ territory. The penalty count was again high and, when in possession, Carrick found it difficult to keep control of the ball, the result of a combination of handling errors and turn-overs. If the team did not go well as a unit, there were some fine individual performances, notably from second row Mark Gordon until he had to go off injured mid-way through the second half and, especially in the second half, from Ryan McGonigle who carried very strongly. Andy McKeen also did well as a carrier and defender while Ross Crymble once again got through a lot of work out wide albeit mostly in a defensive role on this occasion.

The early stages of the game were scrappy, with both sides making unforced errors although, possibly as a sign of things to come, Carrick conceded two penalties in the first three minutes! Even in these early stages, Cooke were beginning to look the more threatening team with ball in hand while Carrick found it difficult to establish any sort of attacking platform. It was, however, the visitors who took the lead after ten minutes when they won a penalty just outside the Cooke 22 and Luke Whittal converted. Five minutes later Cooke came close to opening their account when Carrick turned the ball over inside their opponents 22 and the Cooke left winger raced towards the Carrick line but superb covering across by Kenny Topping and Mark Gordon stopped him short of the line. Having made the try-saving tackle, Gordon was quickly back to his feet to win a penalty for Carrick. The home side continued to dominate territory and possession but could not break down the Carrick defence and, somewhat against the run of play, Carrick extended their lead after twenty-five minutes when Luke Whiyttal put over another penalty. This came after a poor 22 drop out by Cooke was strongly run back by David McKeen, the prop breaking three tackles before he was stopped and Cooke were penalised for a break-down offence. The home side continued to control where the game was played and reduced the deficit with a penalty of their own on the half-hour mark. Then with five minutes of the half remaining they took the lead with the first try of the game. Following a penalty kick to touch they moved play left then switched back right and after quick ball at a ruck, found space on the blind side for their right winger to run in for the try. This was not converted but the home side came close to another score when they ran back an attempted chip over the defence by Carrick and only a foot in touch saved the visitors from going further behind. Cooke has yet another chance on the stroke of half-time but missed with a penalty effort from just outside the Carrick 22 and went into the break leading by 8 points to 6.

The second half started disastrously for Carrick when Cooke won the ball on the ground following the kick-off, made a mid-field break and re-cycled close to the Carrick line for their out-half to dart over near the posts. The try was converted to give Cooke a 15 points to 6 lead. For the next ten minutes or so, Cooke were completely in charge, exerting pressure on the Carrick scrum and keeping the visitors firmly penned inside their own territory. The home side deservedly increased their lead towards the end of the first quarter when they won a series of penalties close to the Carrick line, one of which resulted in a yellow card for a Carrick player, and then drove over from a line-out catch and drive following yet another penalty. The try was not converted, leaving the home side with a 20 points to 6 lead going into the last quarter. At this stage it looked as though it was just a matter of time before Cooke scored the bonus point try but as the game wore on, Carrick began to exert some pressure of their own. With ten minutes remaining, they reduced the deficit with a Luke Whittal penalty which followed a strong carry by Ryan McGonigle and a late tackle on Andy McKeen. From this point on, Carrick dominated possession and it was the home side who were conceding penalties. However, try as they might, and despite the efforts of Ryan McGonigle and Andy McKeen in particular, they could not conjure the try which would at least have given them a losing bonus point. Right at the death, Carrick had a penalty which they put into touch 5 metres out and almost got over with the catch and drive but the Cooke defence did enough to hold them up and the referee blew for time leaving Cooke the winners by 20 points to 9.

Apart from the last ten minutes or so, this was not a good Carrick performance although credit must be given to Cooke who looked a different team to the one which lost by 18 points to 7 to Carrick in mid-December. Carrick are back at Shaw’s Bridge next Saturday when they meet League leaders Instonians who won the fixture at Tom Simms Memorial Park in November by 10 points to 3. Carrick will need to be at their very best – and certainly a lot better than on Saturday last – if they are to have any chance of an upset victory.

The Carrick team which played Cooke was:-
K. Topping; R. Crymble, J. Wady, J. Porter, P. Simpson; L. Whittal, C. Cambridge; D.McKeen, G. McKeown, A. Gibney (J. Bell), C.Rodgers (D. Ferris), M. Gordon, A. Kinkaid, R. McGonigle, A. McKeen.

Other results
The 3rd XV hosted Portadown 3s and were beaten 12-36.
Unfortunately the youth fixtures against Malone had to be cancelled due to unplayable pitches.

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