LURGAN Under 15s finished the season on a high when they travelled to play Rainey in the final of the Brewin Dolphin Bowl competition on Saturday and deservedly claimed a 36-10 win.
Immediately from the kick-off Lurgan settled into the game, dominating both in the tight exchanges and in open play. The Lurgan forwards, led from the front by captain Jonny Good, quickly gained the ascendency putting together several phases of play and providing a great attacking platform for the back line. Half backs Jamie Hunter and Drew Davis displayed excellent game management skills, controlling the pattern of play, and after only 5 minutes the Rainey defence succumbed to the relentless pressure. Ritchie Robinson made the initial break and when the Lurgan forwards recycled the ball, Graeme Bell ran a perfect line to receive a pop-pass and crash over the Rainey line to score Lurgan’s first try. Ryan Mooney calmly added the conversion to give Lurgan a 7-0 lead.
This pattern of play was to continue for the entire first half as Lurgan continually asked questions of the Rainey defence by playing an expansive high paced style of rugby. Conor Brady made several line breaks with his elusive running, Ryan Mooney demonstrated effective counter attacking running and Cameron Swift posed a constant threat with his pace. At this stage Lurgan were completely dominating every aspect of the game and on 10 minutes Curtis Doak powered his way over for Lurgan’s second score. The same player turned provider for the next score, offloading out of the tackle for Cailin Webb to touch down.
Lurgan’s continuity of possession and support play continued with Jordan McIlwaine and Cailin Webb providing an effective link between the forwards and the backs, and Niall Greene, in his first season playing rugby, constantly crossing the gain line with his powerful running. Before half time Lurgan scored again when Curtis Doak took a quick penalty and scored his second try of the match. On the stroke of half time, Rainey were awarded a penalty which they opted to kick to leave the half time score 24-3 in favour of Lurgan.
The second half proved to be a much tougher encounter with Lurgan making several unforced errors, and Rainey showing great determination and spirit. Despite superb defensive efforts by Lurgan, especially Matthew Freeburn, Matthew Laird and Curtis Doak, Rainey were rewarded with a try after some sustained pressure on the Lurgan line.
Lurgan were to concede no more points after this as they increased the intensity of their play, and again started to play with the self-belief and confidence of the first half, running the ball at every opportunity. With 10 minutes remaining Lurgan scored two tries in quick succession. Curtis Doak crowned a man-of-the match performance by scoring his third try as he powered his way over the Rainey line to give Lurgan an unassailable 19 point lead.
Lurgan’s final score of the match was a brilliant individual effort by Shane McKeever, another candidate for man-of-the match. Taking the ball inside his own half he jinked his way past several Rainey defenders before outpacing the cover defence to touch down under the posts. Ryan Mooney added the conversion to leave the final score 36-10.
In accepting the U15 Bowl from Towy Neale (IRFU Ulster Branch) the Lurgan captain, Jonny Good, paid tribute to the U15 coach, Jason Wallace, for all his hard work over the season.