The Maxol-sponsored Carrick 1st XV again let slip a good lead to end up with a 15-15 draw against CIYMS at Tom Simms Memorial Park on Saturday 15th September. However, unlike the game against Enniskillen a fortnight ago, when Carrick dominated for half an hour and then faded, this was a game in which neither side ever really got on top for any significant period and a draw was probably a fair result on the day. Matters were fairly even in terms of territory and posession and, even when Carrick led by 15 points to nil, this did not reflect domination in any area of the game. Nor was the fight-back by CI achieved as a result taking control of the game; as Carrick had earlier, they simply took the chances that came their way.
The battle up front was fairly even, with neither side dominating at the scrum although the Carrick line-out did mis-fire on too many occasion, and both teams had difficulty in controlling possession through multiple phases. For Carrick, Fionn McCormack was outstanding in defence, putting in a couple of tackles which probably prevented tries, while up front Ryan McGonigle and his back-row colleague Ryan Gibson had good games defensively and as ball carriers. The third member of the back-row trio, Ross Crymble, used his pace to put in several good attacking runs and was involved in the second Carrick try and the move which led to the penalty which Adam White converted.
Virtually from the kick-off the visitors had an opportunity to take the lead with a long-range penalty effort but the kick fell short. In the early stages, kicks by Conor Cambridge and Adam White gave Carrick footholds in the CI half but the first score when it came was the indirect result of a rare kicking error by White. After ten minutes Carrick were awarded a penalty on half-way and Adam White’s ambitious effort didn’t find touch but CI played the ball just short of the line and they were forced to touch down in goal. From the ensuing 5-metre scrum, Carrick moved the ball wide to the left then back in-field and went through a couple of phases before Ryan McGonigle forced his way over. The try was converted by Adam White to give Carrick a 7 points to nil lead.
For the next ten minutes, the home side had slightly the better of the exchanges with a good up-and-under from Conor Cambridge causing CI problems and then a strong break by Adam White but, at the ruck after he was tackled ,Carrick turned the ball over. Then, with twenty minutes gone, a good take in the air of a loose CI kick enabled Carrick to run the ball back into the visitors half, with Ross Crymble and Ryan Gibson prominent, and win a penalty at the break-down on the visitors’ 22. Adam White kicked the goal to give Carrick a 10 points to nil lead. The visitors then had a period when of possession inside Carrick territory but failure to control the ball at crucial stages meant they came away empty-handed. They were then made to pay in the thirty-fifth minute when they conceded a penalty around half-way and were marched back ten metres for not retreating.
Adam White found touch deep in the CI 22 and, although Carrick’s line-out was sloppy, they retained the ball and Ross Crymble raced through a gap and fed the backing-up Conor Cambridge who scored. The try was not converted but Carrick now led by 15 points to nil. However, any idea that this was a comfortable cushion was soon disabused when CI put a penalty kick into touch inside the Carrick 22 and, although the home side stopped the visitors’ catch and drive, and forced them into touch, an overthrow at the line-out ended with CI winning possession and a penalty. This time they tapped and ran and, after going through several phases, moved the ball wide to the right and got in at the corner. The try was not converted and the referee blew for half-time with Carrick leading by 15 points to 5.
The visitors had the better of both territory and possession in the early stages of the second half, thanks partly to Carrick conceding a couple of penalties. After another attempted line-out catch and drive was thwarted, and an attempt to go wide foundered on a loose pass, CI were eventually rewarded for their efforts when they ran back a Carrick clearance kick, drove up the middle and one of their centres ran an excellent line to score under the posts in the tenth minute. The try was converted to reduce the gap between the sides to just three points. Over the next ten minutes or so, both sides had their opportunities to mount attacks but failure to control possession, and another couple of poor Carrick line-outs, meant that these came to nothing. Then, as the game moved into the final quarter, the visitors lost a player to a yellow card but managed to steal Carrick line-out ball following the ensuing penalty. Making use of this piece of generosity from their hosts, they broke through in mid-field and won a penalty forty metres out which they converted to level the scores at 15 points apiece.
Following the re-start, the visitors were reduced to thirteen men following another yellow card but Carrick were unable to take advantage despite being camped in and around the CI 22 for five minutes or so and the visitors were able to see out the time until the got one of their sin-binned players back. In the closing stages it was the visitors who looked more likely to get the winning score, especially when they were restored to a full complement of players, but Carrick defended well, with Fionn McCormack putting in a number of tackles which disrupted CI attacking moves and the game ended with the scores still level at 15 points each.
While it was somewhat disappointing that Carrick drew another home game, after having a good lead, this was a very even game in terms of possession and territory and, like recent games between the sides, seemed destined to be close. That said, Carrick might have just shaded things had they shown greater patience when CI were down to thirteen men and had they managed to sort their line-out problem which undoubtedly cost them in the last quarter. Next week, it is back to Conference League action when Carrick host Ballynahinch II.
The Carrick team against CI was:-
M. Black; D. Moore, A. White, B. Alexander, F. McCormack; D. Carse, C. Cambridge; S. Cheshire, A. Whitley (G. McKeown), J. Graham, C. Rodgers, S. Currie, R. Gibson, R. Crymble (N. Greenwood), R. McGonigle (Capt).