Dungannon 20, Sunday’s Well 17.
It was a sense of deja-vu up in County Tyrone on Saturday. Once again a poor start on the scoreboard by the ‘Well saw them chasing a game. Another strong spirited effort hauled them back in with Cormac Kelliher and Shane Desmond among those inspiring the team back into the game against a powerful and high intensity Dungannon side. In the end though; all that Cyprien Jouve’s last second try could rescue was a losing bonus-point; albeit it every point could prove crucial come the end of the season.
The hosts had the advantage of a very strong downfield wind
and looked to pin the ‘Well back from the kick-off as they went straight down
the middle. Brian Derham made an excellent clearance to touch given the
strength of the wind. Dungannon did secure the line-out and worked the
ball through several phases. Some sharp passing and lines of running saw them
regularly break through the gain-line. After several phases; Andrew MCGregor
managed to make the pivotal break and off-loaded to the support runner Mervyn
Brown who went in for a try. Lucas Avelli added the conversion and soon slotted
over a penalty that had the ‘Well trailing by 10 points in as many minutes.
It was an uphill struggle from there and while the ‘Well weren’t at the best; they managed to stifle their opponents momentum. They were carrying hard ball through the forwards with Owen Glynn and Shane Desmond regularly powering their way over the gain line while Evan O’Connell and Cormac Kelliher ran some smart inside lines. Michael Moynihan managed to make some typical powerful bursts through the tackle as well to get his side on the front-foot.
Dungannon were starting to concede a series of penalties and a magnificent kick by Derham bought play up to the five-metre line. Unfortunately; Willie McCarthy who has been excellent making the jump up from J3s to Senior and has been central to the side’s strong performances saw the wet ball freakishly slip out of his hands as he was set to throw the ball in.
The half seemed to be petering out until Dungannon won a penalty to get a line-out in the Twenty-Two. Great work saw the ‘Well steal the ball with time almost up but they just knocked on offering Dungannon a scrum in an ideal attacking position. They managed to get the ball out cleanly and an excellent back-line move allowed the sprightly Avelli race in for a try that he also converted to increases his side’s advantage to 17.
The wind also died down significantly in the second-half;
depriving the ‘Well of a notable advantage their opponents had. That late try
would have been a real blow in the gut and neither were Dungannon getting
complacent. The ‘Well started brightly but had to work hard for their
opportunities. An early penalty was kicked over by Derham to settle the side
back into the game.
There was a great to and fro to the match. Dungannon continued to run dangerous the lines and admittedly the ‘Well’s up front tackling wasn’t to their usual standard. However; any time the hosts seemed to breakthrough they managed to scramble and force the mistake to stay in the game. The ‘Well’s own back-line got more into the game as they spread the ball out more with James Kiernan and Rory Slater making some good bursts.
Cormac Kelliher who was working hard in the tight was also prominent in the loose and was like a flying winger as he received ball on half-way. He raced into the Twenty-Two and was stopped just short and with the ball coming loose Dungannon were penalised. The ‘Well kicked to the corner and were illegally stopped; leading to a sin-binning and another penalty. Again an infringement saw them get a penalty with Peter Arigho taking a quick tap and Ryan Linehan was on hand to power over the line. Derham slotted the extras straight between the uprights.
Dungannon managed to make regular line-breaks and were
dominating territory for the closing twenty minutes. The ‘Well while inviting
pressure were defending superbly in the Twenty-Two but eventually did concede a
penalty that Avelli to put the game to double scores at 20-10.
With time fast running out the ‘Well managed to launch one last series of attacks and Cyprien Jouve; who was magnificent as usual in defence stepped up to the plate to cut through for a try that secured a losing bonus-point; with Derham maintaining his 100% kicking record.
With Belfast Harlequins picking up a bonus point in their clash against MU Barnhall the ‘Well remain five points adrift at the bottom. With three games left and a clash against Harlequins among them; it is all to play for and there could still be hope of avoiding a relegation play-off altogether; all that task is much more out of the ‘Well’s hands. The side now have a deserved rest ahead of their clash with Corinthians on the 23rd at Irish Independent Park.
Scorers: Dungannon: L Avelli try, 2 pens, 2 cons; M Brown
Sunday’s Well: R Linehan, C Jouve tries; B Derham pen, 2 cons.
Dungannon: A McGregor; M Montgomery, M Brown, L Avelli, J McIlwaine; J Buckley, C Milnes; R Stewart, M Allister, J Gamble; A Gormley, G Lopez; D Leyburn, M Riddell, J McMahon. Replacements: D Maxwell, G Sinnamon, S Todd, P Doran, C McGeough.
Sunday’s Well: P Hegarty; J Kiernan, D O’Sullivan, C Jouve (c), R Slater; B Derham, P Arigho; M Moynihan, W McCarthy, E O’Connell; S Desmond, O Glynn; J Barnes, J Mulcahy, C Kelliher. Replacements: R Linehan, C Axson, E Ackland, A Mintern, G Downey.