LURGAN Tigers U15’s met Coleraine at Pollock Park last Saturday in the U15 league play-offs.
Lurgan had qualified by finishing second in the Premier League with Coleraine having been second in their regional league. But the U15 age bracket is a two year one and unfortunately for Lurgan almost all of whom were school year 10 in their first season at U15, the Coleraine squad were almost all Y11 boys in their second year at that age bracket.
At this level that one year makes a huge difference in terms of physical development and experience and as a result Coleraine were noticeably bigger, heavier and stronger. The Tigers tackled ferociously throughout and attacked when they could but the physical superiority of Coleraine took its toll as the game progressed. In the end Coleraine triumphed by 27 points to 5.
Tigers had the kick off and opened the match brightly. A series of powerful attacks pushed Coleraine back towards their goal line. The Tigers forwards drove on in the loose, possession was retained and supplied to the backs who slung the ball back and forth with enthusiasm and after about five minutes centre Michael Watson powered his way over for a well deserved try. Coleraine responded as strong teams do. They simply retrieved the ball and got on with it, gradually wearing the Tigers down through their sheer physical superiority. Two tries in the first half and another three in the second gave Coleraine a victory which appears more emphatic than it actually was.
The Tigers were by no means outclassed, simply overpowered. Apart from a few stray kicks and dropped passes, of which Coleraine were equally guilty, they gave of their best. Even although in almost every set scrum the heavier and stronger Coleraine pack shoved the Tigers back, they seldom took the ball against the head, and the Tigers held their share of the ball at the lineouts.
Frequently strong Coleraine runners were brought emphatically to ground by fearless and committed tackling from the Tigers. But in the open play, the rucks and the mauls Tigers were outdone by the sheer size, weight and strength of Coleraine which allowed the visitors to dominate possession and territory.
So, Tigers U15s end their league campaign second in the Premier league, in course of which they beat the winners, Carrick. Even with most of the squad in their first year at U15, Tigers won a lot more matches than they lost, scored many more points than they conceded and can be very proud of what they have achieved. Now they begin their preparations for the cup competition in which at the pool stage they will meet Coleraine again. If they prepare and plan well the Tigers are quite capable of beating Coleraine next time.
Tigers U15 Squad: Michael Boulos, Lewis Lawson, Nathan Dawson, Declan Foster, Motiejus Cizauskas, Harry Woods, Benjamin Greer, Ben McAlister, Joe McKinley, Scott Wilson, Jonny Hunter, Adam O’Connor, Max Hamilton, Michael Watson, Cormac Sheehy, Ben Jones, Barry McCambridge, Adam Harrison.