1st XV win 19-12 at Portadown and get league title back on

Instonians win in a mud bath at Portadown

Portadown 12 – Instonians 19
Date: 2-30 pm Saturday, 10 March 2018
Venue: Portadown
Fixture: Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship Division 1
Conditions: wet, heavy pitch

After incessant heavy rain all day this game was played on a sodden pitch. Although the rain moderated before kick off the conditions heavily influenced the quality of the game. It was Instonians first game since the defeat at Ballyclare on 17 February and they lacked a little of their usual sharpness in attack.

The pack was along the usual lines with Conor Gallagher starting at hooker and Neill Neil Saulters on the bench. Fraser Wright was back at out-half and Mark Mairs, usually a back row forward, was on the right wing in place of the injured Matt Kilpatrick. Joe Fryers provided the substitute three quarter cover. 

Instonians kicked off and soon found themselves on the attack. An early scoring opportunity was missed after they kicked to the corner from a penalty award. The line out throw from just 5 metres out was adjudged not straight and Portadown had a relieving scrum put in.

Almost immediately, after a powerful mid field drive, the away side had another penalty in their favour. Again they kicked to the corner. They mauled from the line out and were held up over the line. The referee awarded a scrum put in to Portadown but Instonians pushed them off the ball to allow scrum-half Matthew Keane to give a simple blindside pass to winger Michael Melville who dived in at the corner for the first try of the game after 8 minutes. The conversion was missed from the touchline.

Portadown failed to put the ball 10 metres from the restart and Instonians were soon back on the attack as they won a penalty at the scrum.

Instonians were completely dominant in the set piece. They either won penalties at the scrum or drove Portadown off the ball. Similarly they were turning over a lot of Portadown ball at the line out. The only place they were not dominant was on the scoreboard. This was due to a combination of strong Portadown defence and handling errors in the poor conditions.

As we moved into the second quarter the Portadown scrum-half made a break which took him into opposition territory but he was penalised at the breakdown which allowed Instonians to go back on the attack. Instonians continued to dominate territory and possession with a lot of play in the opposition 22 but they just could not get over the try line. In fact it was only in the 38th minute that Portadown got back down into the Instonian half. They won a penalty 35 metres out and straight in front of the posts but the kick drifted wide and the score remained 0-5 at half-time.

Portadown started the second half strongly. Instonians knocked on to give the home side the opportunity to attack from a scrum 40 metres out. They held the ball well and set up a number of good phases. Instonians drifted off-side and Portadown took a quick tap from 15 metres out. They set up a number of drives which took them close to the line and were eventually rewarded when they burst over for a good try beside the posts. The easy conversion put them in the lead 7-5 after 43 minutes. 

From the restart Instonians were back on the attack. After a line out steal captain and flanker Josh Atkinson made a strong carry and then this was carried on by a clean break by Fraser Wright. Portadown were forced to infringe right on the line in what looked like a certain try. But then at the 5 metre attacking line out the throw was judged not straight and Instonians were penalised at the scrum.

Back came Instonians and they soon had another penalty to kick to the corner. Yet again Instonians lost a great opportunity when they were turned over at the line out to allow Portadown to kick clear.

It was still all Instonians. Fraser Wright was off target with a kick at goal in front of the posts and 32 metres out after 58 minutes.

It was proving a frustrating day for Instonians as we entered the final quarter still 7-5 down but dominating territory and possession. Again it was a case of good, dogged home side defence and poor handling in the conditions.

Fraser Wright kicked down into the 22 and then Portadown lost their own line out 15 metres out. This time Instonians held the ball through the phases. Matthew Keane saw his chance and slipped through to make a clean break which took him over the line for an important converted try on 62 minutes to put Instonians back in the lead 12-7.

Better was to come soon after. Again Portadown failed to kick the ball 10 metres at the restart and were then penalised at the scrum.

Instonians mauled well from the line out and as Matthew Keane cut through again he was felled by a high tackle. Instonians elected to kick for the corner. This time the line out and maul were good. After a few phases on the Portadown line substitute hooker Neil Saulters was able to burst over for a well taken try. The conversion was good and Instonians were 7-19 up with 15 minutes left.

They set off to try to claim the important, bonus point, fourth try but it was not to be. They continued to dominate territory but errors kept them out.

As we entered the final minutes Portadown fought back and won a penalty which took them into the Instonian 22 for only the second time in the half. They held the ball well and were eventually rewarded when they moved the ball wide and dived in at the corner with the last move of the game. This left the score at 12-19.

It was a rather frustrating result for Instonians as the bonus point eluded them. It had been a much improved performance from Portadown who had fallen to a heavy defeat in the game at Shaw’s Bridge in December. 

After the news that Ballyclare were defeated at Carrickfergus Instonians now have a seven point lead in the league table with two home league games remaining. If they can win these they may yet be crowned league champions.

It is still all to play for.

Team 1 to 17: John Andress, Conor Gallagher, Alan Whitten, Sean Shuttleworth, Rory McCurry, Harry Clelland, Josh Atkinson, Roger Wilson, Matthew Keane, Fraser Wright, Michael Melville, David Scott, Ben Scott, Mark Mairs, Gareth Burns-Delaney, Neill Saulters, Joe Fryers






Next 1st XV match is the rescheduled home match with CIYMS 1st XV in the league

It is hope to play this match on either tues 20th Mar or wed 21st Mar

Next pre-match lunch is sat 24th Mar – Home to Cooke

To book a place at the pre-match lunches please contact:

David Croft

0788 591 8145


Ken Bamford

0783 466 5095




To be confirmed






To be confirmed






Pre-match lunch available