A Crawford Cup Final
Coleraine 2’s 12 Ballynahinch 3’s 14
Richard Hart reports from Ravenhill
A cold sunny day greeted the Crawford Cup Finalists at Ravenhill, with Ballynahinch having the kick-off, playing towards the Aquinas end and making their mark from the start with some excellent first hits. The pressure continued from Ballynahinch, forcing Coleraine to infringe in the Hinch 22. The subsequent penalty lead to a Hinch line out that was easily won and the maul worked well into the Coleraine 22, allowing Hinch to release their backs on the attack with John Gunson supporting and crashing over the line on 4 minutes, but some sturdy Coleraine defence held the ball up and the try was disallowed.
On 10 minutes, the Coleraine Captain Paul Sheils was yellow carded for foul play at a ruck. Hinch kicked for a line out and won the ball, again pressuring the Coleraine defence. A 5m scrum was awarded to Hinch, but they were penalised for collapsing and Coleraine cleared their lines.
A Captain’s charge by Andy Glenn from Ballynahinch saw him break several tackles into Coleraine’s 22. The ball was recycled severals times by Hinch with No 8 John Gunson finally making the try line. The kick was converted by Hinch out half Robbie Irvine. 20 minutes played, Coleraine 2’s 0 – Hinch 3’s 7
Hinch received the kick-off and attacked through the middle keeping Coleraine on the back foot. The resultant pressure and recycling of the ball through several phases of forwards play left Coleraine short handed in defence and allowed Mark McCormick to come in off his wing and score. Irvine again converted.
Coleraine’s turn to attack now came with them keeping Hinch well within their own half and forcing Hinch to infringe at a ruck and giving Coleraine the penalty. Coleraine failed to win their own line out, but poor kicking from Hinch failed to clear their lines allowing Coleraine to attack through their strong running centre Tommy van Wyk.
Hinch absorbed the Coleraine pressure well, but were very guilty on several occasions of not releasing the player in the tackle and were penalised on 35 minutes as a result. Coleraine opted to kick just outside the Hinch 22, but the Coleraine out half Cameron Jinks scuffed the ball wide of the Hinch posts.
Coleraine continued on the attack again moving ball to the strong running van Wyk who was consistently threatening the Hinch back line.
Half time – Coleraine 0 Ballynahinch 14
Coleraine started the second half strongly and were awarded a penalty as Hinch out half Robbie Irvine failed to release the ball in a tackle. Coleraine opted to kick, but again the Coleraine out half Jinks missed an easy kick in front of the posts. It was now Hinch’s turn to go on the attack and clever running and kicking by the veteran Jonny Cullen saw Coleraine pinned well into their 22. Good Coleraine counter-rucking saw them win the ball and clear their lines with Hinch knocking the attempted catch on.
The match started to become a little frantic as both teams tired and a kicking game ensued as field advantage was sought. Some clever play by Coleraine and deft hands from their notable van Wyk saw a great chance missed as the final Coleraine pass was knocked forward.
On 60 minutes, in a move straight off the training park, Coleraine attacked wide, only to be bundled into touch well inside the Hinch 22. Hinch fought back well from the line out and made deep into Coleraine’s 22, only for Coleraine to steal the ball and attack through their backs well into Hinch’s 22. Five minutes later, Hinch were penalised for an infringement at the ruck and Coleraine, 5m from Hinch’s line, used a clever forwards’ move which saw their No 8 Andrew Hutchinson score, with Coleraine Captain Paul Shiels converting. At 66 minutes played the scoreline hovered at: Coleraine 7 Ballynahinch 14.
A fantastic break by Hinch’s backs saw Mark McCormick denied a try only by a Coleraine high tackle. Hinch opted to kick the penalty, but the usually reliable Irvine pushed the kick wide.
On 74 mins Jonny Cullen was yellow carded for infringing in a ruck and Coleraine attacked from their penalty, passing the ball through several sets of hands to see their winger Nigel Hall score in the corner. Captain Sheils missed the crucial conversion. Coleriane had pulled the score back to Coleraine 12 Ballynahinch 14, and were on the offensive.
Hinch now played a game of retaining the ball for the remaining time, ensuring that their forwards soaked up the time. On 79 mins with seconds to play, Coleraine infringed at a ruck and Hinch opted for the line out, winning their ball and again playing down the clock. Full time was blown and a delighted 14 man Ballynahinch 3’s saw the Club’s first Silverware of the season.
Coleraine: P Shiels (Capt), N Hall, B Cochrane, T van Wyk, S Callaghan, C Jinks, A McKnight, A Hutchinson, S Dickey, G Neely, A Hogg, M Hunter, A Nevin
Replacements: G Blair, J Boyd, H Tate, A Kettle, A Gourley
Ballynahinch: J Magowan, M McCormick, J Graham, J Cullen, J Coen, R Irvine, J Murdock, J Gunson, P Orr, M Adams, R Lusk, M McDowell, A Glenn (Capt), D Steele, A Samuel
Replacements: I Dornan, M Glenn, F Birt, G Murdock, G Morton
Referee: Peter Martin
Touch Judges: Graham Gibson, Peter McLure, Vincent Hughes, Niall McLean.