Donaghadee Rugby Club 1st XV continued their unbeaten run, taking four points from their visit to Roughfort on Saturday afternoon. However the win was not just as comfortable as the 26-10 score line suggests.
Academy took the lead from a penalty in the opening five minutes, however this lead was short lived with Ricardo Santos replying immediately to bring the scores back level.
With neither team securing their own set pieces the game was an unattractive spectacle for much of the opening quarter with neither side putting any telling pressure on the oppositions defence.
In the 30th minute Academy regained the lead after a bizarre series of events that resulted in the first try of the game. As an Academy player made a charge in Donaghadee’s 22 he appeared to spill the ball and knock forward, however as Dee players seemed to pause waiting for the officials whistle, Academy capitalised and scored under the posts, which allowed for a straightforward conversion and a 10-3 advantage.
The men in red and green would have had few positives from their first half’s performance other than their positive response to going behind on two occasions. From the restart Donaghadee wing forward Kenny McCombe soared above his challengers to reclaim Santos’s high ball. From the resulting play Donaghadee were awarded a penalty which Santos successfully kicked to reduce the deficit.
Half time – Academy 10 – Donaghadee 6
In the second half Donaghadee started to show glimpses of the quality, work rate and tempo that the travelling supporters had been used to watching of late, however Academy continued to have opportunities to stretch their lead but were unable to take their chances. Santos on the other hand was not put off by the blustery conditions at the exposed Roughfort ground and brought Donaghadee to within a point of the home team with a low driven penalty.
On the 65th minute Donaghadee took the lead for the first time with Santos making it four out of four penalties taken. Donaghadee dominated play in the final quarter of the game and their dominance during this period was rewarded with two tries in final five minutes.
The first came from the versatile Richard Miller who took an inside ball from Dee skipper Bobby Harpur after good work in the loose from Kenny McCombe and Keith McIlwaine.
The second was from the final phase of play and a first try in a Dee shirt from Kalava Aualiitia who finished off a fine move that saw McIlwaine beat a couple of tacklers and off load to Paul Hamilton who stood up strong and intelligently popped the ball to the oncoming Aualiitia who powered over the line to leave Santos a reasonable straightforward conversion to make the final score 26-10.
It’s fair to say this encounter was not a rugby classic, however although Donaghadee’s performance fell short of expectations, they have shown an ability to grind out a result at a ground they have left empty handed more times than they would care to remember.
With Donaghadee sitting top of the league with three games played they host the much fancied Coleraine this weekend at Donaldson Park, kick off at 2.30pm.
Scoops Man of the Match
This week’s Man of the Match was running to the lineouts in the final ten minutes determined to rally the troops to add to the scoreline and secure an away win. Offering an all-round industrious work rate and application, the Donaghadee hooker has had an excellent start to the season – Gareth Gordon.
Team: (15-9) Billy Allen, Ricardo Santos, Bobby Harpur, Nigel Barker, Richard Miller, Paul Blewitt, Alistair Lockhart; (1-8) Chris Schofield, Gareth Gordon, Chris Good, Kalave Aualiitia, Kyle Morrow (sub: Stuart Hutchinson), Paul Hamilton, Kenny McCombe, Keith McIlwaine.
On Sunday 25th September ardent Donaghadee supporter Moira Russell celebrates her 80th Birthday. Moria has been a regular visitor to Newtownards Road since the 1950’s and her support is very much appreciated from both players and coaches alike. All connected with Donaghadee Rugby Club wish her a very Happy Birthday and hope the 1st XV can give her even more to cheer about on Saturday Afternoon.