Dramatic finish downs Dromore
Saturday saw a 3rd XV team combining youth and experience make the relatively short journey to play Dromore in the first league game of the season at this level.
It was a fine, sunny day with a firm pitch which seemed ideally suited to CI’s expansive game plan. CI started brightly securing good ball at the line out and with Sheep and MacAttack securing reliable set piece ball in the scrum. In fact, the CI pack had their heavier opponents going backward on occasion, winning a couple of scrums against the head.
Despite good possession in the first quarter, early season rustiness was to blame for CI not troubling the score board. Too often the last pass was forced or an impossible offload sought to no avail. Strong running from the Dromore forwards tested the CI defence throughout. It was a stolen line out on the halfway line that facilitated the opening CI score, the ball whipped wide and the move finished off in the corner by Duncan Gleadhill. Neil Wallace added a score shortly after to extend the lead. Richard Meerkat was forced to leave the field shortly before halftime with a recurring neck injury, leaving CI with 14 players for the remainder of this game.
Dromore rallied in the second half, exploiting their one man advantage and running in four good tries in the process. A promising game was now in danger of running away from CI with the score at 22-12 to Dromore with only 5 minutes remaining on the clock. However, CI were not to lie down in their season opener and Gleadhill barged his way over for his second try to make the score 22-17.
A last minute play saw Neil Wallace break from deep and beat four defenders before offloading to Tuffers who scored between the posts to level the scores. With the scores now tied and time exhausted, Gleadhill stepped up for the nail biting chance to win the game with the conversion. Good commitment from Dromore saw one of the charging defenders get a hand to the kick, unfortunately for him it was not sufficient contact to stop the ball sailing over.
A dramatic victory for CI that silenced the sizeable home crowd with the final score of CI 24 Dromore 22.
An excellent way for the 3’s to start the season in a competitive away fixture, unlucky to Dromore who played consistently throughout. CI will feel that with 14 men on the pitch they got the element of last minute luck that their performance deserved.
Elsewhere, CI 2nds were 48-7 victors over Banbridge 3’s with Poomel continuing his profile scoring start to the season with a hatrick making it 7 tries in 2 opening games!