Hinch II’s Too Strong For Cooke

Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup – Quarter Final

Cooke  10     –     Ballynahinch II’s   50

Chris Parker Reports from Shaw’s Bridge

Hinch went into the Junior Cup quarter final full of confidence after two good wins in the conference league but they were aware of the threat that Cooke posed after narrowly losing to them last season. Cooke started strongly and with a breeze at their backs tried to play the game in the Hinch half. Hinch retained possession well and following a break out of defence from Harris, the ball was recycled and Nicholson scythed through the defence to link with Armstrong, who was pulled down short of the line, the ball was then moved to the right wing where Arneill strolled in unchallenged to score, McBriar added the extras.

Cooke came back strongly and put a lot of pressure on the Hinch defence but they managed to turn over ball and clear their lines. The pressure continued and when a Cooke player broke through he linked with the winger who drew Nicholson to put the supporting full back in for a try, which was converted to tie the scores at 7 all. Hinch looked dangerous with ball in hand but silly offloads and poor ball retention was giving the possession back to Cooke.

Towards the end of the half, McBriar spotted a gap in midfield and cut through to draw the full back and send Graham in under the posts; McBriar converted to restore the 7 point lead. Once again Cooke responded to this set back by applying pressure on the Hinch defence and after working their way in to the Hinch 22, an infringement at a ruck allowed Cooke the easiest of penalty attempts which brought the score to 14-10 in Hinch’s favour at half time.

The 2’s now had the wind at their backs and started the second half brightly with Heatley and Nicholson looking dangerous out wide. The first score of the half went in Hinch’s favour when a fantastic line break by Simpson saw him hauled down by a great cover tackle but the prop showed superb skills to offload the ball over his shoulder in the tackle to the supporting Cairns who went in under the posts; McBriar did the needful with the conversion. McBriar added on a penalty a few minutes later to bring the score to 24-10.

Hinch knew they needed to build on their good start and Cairns was starting to become a real threat around the fringes of the ruck as the Cooke pack tired. The ball retention in this half was a lot better and following a number of phases of play the ball was spread to the left touchline where Armstrong found himself in plenty of space to score near the posts, allowing McBriar the simplest of tasks with the conversion.

Cooke continued to threaten the Hinch line with their number 8 and inside centre making breaks into the Hinch 22 only to be tackled by the cover defence and Hinch managed to clear their lines. Hinch continued to threaten Cooke out wide and following another line break Nicholson was able to go in under the posts for a try which McBriar converted.

The 2’s continued to move the ball and attack Cooke, extending their lead further when the instrumental Harris noticed space behind the defensive line and from his grubber in behind James and Heatley both dived on the ball to score with Heatley emerging with the ball to claim the try, McBriar failed to add the extras. Straight from the kick off the ball was moved to McBriar in his 22 and he put the supporting Arneill through a gap, the winger then drew the full back and winger to send Heatley clear and the winger had enough pace to score his second try in a matter of minutes, McBriar added the conversion.

Cooke continued to try and get a score but excellent defence from Saunders and Heatley saw them turn over ball in the left hand corner clear their lines and bring the game to an end with the 2’s running out winners 50 – 10 and into the semi finals of the junior cup.

Any win against Cooke is impressive but to beat them playing expansive rugby and scoring 7 tries in the process was superb for the confidence of the side and they now eagerly await the draw for the semi finals.

Ballynahinch II’s Team:

D. Nicholson, M. Arneill, P. James, D. Harris, J. Heatley, J. McBriar, A. Cairns, M. Graham, J. Donaldson, G. Morton, J. Donnan, J. McMullan, S. Orr, G. Armstrong, J. Simpson.

Subs: A. Irwin, C. Saunders