19 Dec CI take positive points from draw
A sizeable crowd of lunch attendees and spectators welcomed Coleraine to Belmont on Saturday, in what was an opportunity for the two fancied heavyweights of Championship 2 to go toe to toe.
CI entered this game off the back of a lackluster conference game defeat away to Armagh and knew they would need to rekindle previous levels of intensity to challenge a Coleraine side who were undefeated to date.
The game started at a good pace and it was Coleraine who enjoyed the lions share of early possession. Matty Butler gave the CI bench an early scare, staying down after making a tackle, but a few press ups for the home fans and he was back in the game.
His brief absence from the back line did give Coleraine enough space to make a dangerous break, only to knock on at the 22 with the line surely beckoning.
The remainder of the first half gave little incident to report with both sides either stifling the others attacks or coughing up possession at critical times through mistakes or penalties.
Half time: CIYMS 0 Coleraine 0
CI started the second half brightly and entered the Coleraine 22. Calum Irvine, who carried well all day, took a switch line after the pack had mauled and offloaded to Jason Gilliland, who touched down for the ideal start to the second half, 7-0.
It was a physical and tiring game with a number of big hits going in and both sides working hard in defence.
The CI set piece was operating well with the scrum better than solid and the lineout providing a good challenge at times on opposition ball.
15 mins after the restart, a long period of Coleraine possession stretched the CI defence and their lively fullback found a gap before rounding the covering tackler to score under the posts 7-7.
A better quality second half was largely played around the middle third of the pitch with strong running and equally strong tackling providing a tense but entertaining affair, albeit without troubling the scoreboard.
Coleraine did attempt an ambitious shot at goal, but the less said about the kick itself the better. If CI were to be faulted, it would be that their tactical kicking might have yielded better results by taking the fight deeper into Coleraine territory.
The home side continued to show endeavour until the end though, carrying the ball out from their own 22 to over half way before a knock on signaled the final whistle.
A 7-7 draw probably providing an accurate reflection of the game but giving ultimate satisfaction to neither team for their efforts. A tense and tight affair for two sides who have not had difficulty scoring this season but who ultimately cancelled each other out.
Full time: CIYMS 7 Coleraine 7
CI will claim a narrow points victory had this one gone to the judges scorecards -the hoops likely edging the forward tustle on count back.
Certainly enough gained for CI to make the away trip to Coleraine in Jan with determined confidence.
Work to do over the festive period then, ahead of a league encounter with old foes Grosvenor.