The Maxol-sponsored Carrick 1st XV were beaten by 24 points to 13 by Cooke in a hard-fought, and at times fractious, encounter at Tom Simms Memorial Park on Saturday 1st December. This leaves Carrick in eighth place in the League although level on points with Portadown and CIYMS both of whom also lost on Saturday.
Despite playing a quarter of the game with fourteen men because of two yellow cards, Cooke always had the edge against the under-strength home side. Carrick once again gave away too many penalties and turned the ball over too often when in promising attacking positions. For Carrick, Ian McMenamin had another good game in the second row as did his lock partner Chris Rodgers. Ryan Gibson at blind-side carried and tackled well as did Ross Crymble at open-side until he was replaced. Alan Whitley got through a lot of work and deserved to be credited with the two “pack tries” while centre Adam White also worked hard in defence and broke the gain line on a number of occasions. Conor Cambridge on his return after injury was lively as always and produced one break and run from inside his own half which deserved to lead to a try but the support could not get to him quickly enough.
On a grim and grey December afternoon, Carrick started well and took the lead early on with a Fionn McCormack penalty goal. The visitors hit back shortly afterwards with a converted try and then extended their lead with a penalty goal. With half-time approaching, Carrick got themselves back into the game when Alan Whitley touched down after a line-out driving maul. The conversion was unsuccessful and the visitors led by 10 points to 8 at the break.
Shortly after half-time, Cooke extended their lead with a penalty and proceeded to dominate the third quarter and the early part of the fourth, adding an unconverted try and two penalties to establish a 24 points to 8 lead. With time running out, Carrick did reduce the deficit when they once again rumbled over from a line-out catch and drive, hooker Alan Whitley again getting the touch-down. The try was not converted, leaving the final score at 24 points to 13 in the visitors’ favour.
While missing a number of key players, including Captain Ryan McGonigle, Carrick fought hard against the well organised Cooke outfit but, and finished level on the try count, but had to concede dominance in territory and possession for significant parts of the game to the visitors which enabled the latter to build their points total. Carrick have now lost four League games in a row and could do with a win when they host Instonians next Saturday, their last home game before four in a row on the road in late December and the first half of January.
The Carrick team against Cooke was:-
M. Black, F. McCormack, J. Burton, A. White, B. Alexander; D. Carse, C. Cambridge; J. Graham, A. Whitley, S. Cheshire (G. Mc Keown), C. Rodgers (Capt), I. McMenamin, R. Gibson, R. Crymble (B. O’Callaghan), C. Rea.