Domestic Rugby Preview For Sat 5th Jan 2019 By George Millar

Instonians Bit First

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP

DIV 1

Two points now separate the top three teams in this league. Leaders Ballyclare fell to their second defeat of the season at undefeated Dromore losing 21 – 8. Instonians maintained the pressure on Ballyclare in picking up a valuable bonus point in their 27 – 24 win over Cooke at Shawsbridge in a thrilling local derby. With Dromore not playing this weekend both Ballyclare and Instonians will be looking to pick up maximum points against Enniskillen and Coleraine. Fourth place Grosvenor find themselves battling with Cooke for the all important 4th place finish and qualification for the All Ireland Junior Cup next season. The Gibson Park side make the journey across Belfast to play CIYMS at Belmont in what will be a hard fought derby between two sides needing the points. Cooke entertain a Portadown side who have picked up much needed wins away to Enniskillen and CIYMS. When you look at the Div 1 league table you will see that five points separate the bottom five teams. Every league point will be crucial in the second half of the season. Teams will be fighting for the losing bonus point for losing by seven or less points or looking to score four tries to pick up another league point. What a contest we have building up between the ten teams with nine matches remaining.

Coleraine v Instonians

Head coach Benjy Van Der Byl is hoping to field the same team that defeated Carrickfergus 18 – 17 at Rugby Avenue last Saturday.

In the reverse game Instonians won 36 – 14 at Shawsbridge on the 17th November.

SONI ULSTER RUGBY PREMIERSHIP

DIV 1

There was plenty of drama at Ballymacarn Park in the league decider for the Stevenson Shield between Ballynahinch and Malone.  The home side showing their experience to turn around a 13 – 6 deficit to score 15 unanswered points in the second half to reclaim the Ulster league title. The relegation of City of Armagh to Div 2 had been confirmed the previous week following their 24 – 21 home defeat to Ballymena in round 4. Banbridge ended a losing run scoring five tries in their 36 – 15 win at Ballymena. Queens University and City of Armagh provided eight tries in their highly entertaining match at the Dub Lane with the visitors prevailing 33 – 19.

DIV 2

League winners Rainey OB maintained their unbeaten record with a 20 – 12 win at neighbours Dungannon. There was a much needed 31 - 12 win for Belfast Harlequins at home to City of Derry with back row forward Christian Bennison scoring three tries. Omagh completed their Premiership programme scoring nine tries in their comprehensive 49 – 22 win over visitors Bangor at the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields.

At the weekend there were a few interesting scenarios cropped up in the SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership in deciding league winners and who would be relegated. Greg Irwin Chairman of the Competitions Management Committee kindly cleared up for me the grey areas. In all leagues in Ulster Rugby Competitions where teams finish on the same league points their league position will be determined by the result of the fixture/s between the two teams. Ballymena beat City of Armagh in their Ulster Premiership league fixture so City of Armagh were relegated to Div 2.  In the league decider between Ballynahinch and Malone - if both teams had finished on the same points the league title would have been determined by the outcome of the fixture between the two teams. This approach to determining league finishing positions was agreed by the clubs and introduced at the start of the 2016/17 season.

MILLAR McCALL WYLIE JUNIOR CUP FINAL

Played in front of a large crowd at the Kingspan stadium on Wednesday night - Dromore held on to defeat holders Ballynahinch seconds 22 – 19 in an incident packed game. It was a case of Dromore winning their first Junior Cup Final since they defeated Coleraine 3 – 0 in the 1938/39 season. They had contested the 2005/6 Final losing out to Ballymena seconds 33 – 18 with  Ballynahinch seconds  going for their third consecutive win in the Junior Cup. It is never easy for a Kukri Championship side to win one of the provincial trophies available each season when you are playing an Ulster AIL club second xv team in a Final. It makes the achievement of this Dromore side all the more commendable.

Ballynahinch seconds 19 Dromore 22

Ballynahinch seconds team: 1. Ben Cullen, 2. Clayton Milligan, 3. Harry McCormick, 4. Matthew McKelvey, 5. Thomas Martin, 6. Brian Howard, 7. Stuart Elwood, 8. Gareth Gill, 9. Lewis Finlay, 10. Matthew Norton (Capt), 11. Jonathan McCoubrey, 12. Patrick Wright, 13. Eamon McAnulty, 14. Aaron Ferris, 15. James McBriar, 16. Graeme McKitterick, 17. Kelvin Hamilton, 18. Daniel Dawson, 19. Connor Phillips, 20. Ronan Patterson.

Points scorers: Ronan Patterson, Aaron Ferris 1 x try each, Matthew Norton 3 x pens

Dromore team: 1. Justy Savage, 2. Stuart Sloan, 3. Tom Lyttle, 4. Matthew McMaster, 5. Ross Bingham, 6. Adam McGregor (Capt), 7. Peter Elliott, 8. Ben Heath, 9. Lee Steenson, 10. David Lyttle, 11. Andrew Lyttle, 12. Graeme McCandless, 13. Aaron Stewart, 14. Brian McClearn, 15. Adam McDonald, 16. Andrew Black, 17. Fraser Mulholland, 18. Jonny Maguire, 19. Stuart Russell, 20. Andrew Gilmore.

Points scorers: Tom Lyttle, Ben Heath 1 x try each, 1 x penalty try + con, Lee Steenson 1 x con and 1 x pen.

Dromore will have this weekend off after playing two games in five days with their league game against Carrickfergus postponed. For the Dromore players and coaches Johnny Cullen and Jamie Kirk their focus will return to the their league ambitions when they travel to play Instonians at Shaws bridge on Friday the 11th January for this evening kick off. The players will be looking to back up their impressive 21 – 8 win at Barban Hill over league leaders Ballyclare last Saturday. With the 1st Rd of the Powerade Towns Cup kicking off this weekend Dromore have received a bye.

For Ballynahinch seconds coaches Mark McDowell and Davy Harris there will be disappointment that the team could not make it three back to back wins in the Junior Cup. They will be immensely proud of the efforts of the players in last nights final. This is very much a season of transition at Ballymacarn under Brian McLaughlin as the coaches continue to build and develop strength in depth within their playing squad. The seconds could not make it two trophies in five days for the faithful after the 1st xv won the Stevenson Shield at the weekend. The Ballynahinch players will have little time to dwell on their defeat with second xv travelling to Blaris to play Lisburn in the 1st Rd of the Powerade Towns Cup on Saturday. There is very little rest time for the 1st and 2nd xv playing squads with the 1st xv travelling to Eaton Park to play Ballymena 1st xv in the Semi Finals of the First Trust Senior Cup on Saturday.

FIRST TRUST SENIOR CUP SEMI FINALS

Two intriguing games down for decision this weekend. Holders City of Armagh will be hoping to make it back to back final appearances at the Kingspan stadium on Friday 8th February when they welcome SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership Div 2 champions Rainey OB to the Palace Grounds. How ironic is it that Rainey OB will be replacing former Stevenson Shield holders City of Armagh in Div 1 next season after the holders were surprisingly relegated. It is not only the two clubs 1st xv teams meeting this weekend we have the clubs two second xv sides meeting in the 1st Rd of the Powerade Towns Cup at Hatrick Park. City of Armagh have shown the considerable depth they have in their playing squad with the second xv retaining the Conference league One title after defeating Grosvenor 34 – 26 at the Palace Grounds last Sat. Rainey OB seconds find themselves in 3rd place in Ulster Provincial League Div 1 after securing promotion last season. This will be a good test for the Rainey squad and their Head coach John Andrews to see where his playing squad are against the highest placed Ulster side in the All Ireland league. In their only Senior Cup Final appearance Rainey lost out to Ballymena 25 – 6 in the 2012/13 Final

In the other semi final at Eaton Park we have two familiar foes looking to make their annual trip to the Kingspan stadium. Last season Ballymena lost out to  City of Armagh in the Final. Ballynahinch 1st xv will be wanting to complete the double this season after winning the Stevenson Shield last weekend. Potential Ulster releases could determine the outcome of this match. Ballymena have surprised many rugby pundits by turning around their season in the All Ireland league and avoiding relegation to Div 2 of the SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership by winning at City of Armagh. The challenge for both sets of coaches is selecting sides to make sure both their 1st and 2nd xv teams are competitive this weekend. In the 1st Rd of the Powerade Towns Cup Ballynahinch seconds are at Lisburn with Ballymena seconds travelling to play City of Derry seconds at the Craig Thompson Stadium.

POWERADE TOWNS CUP

We have eight 1st Rd ties down for decision this weekend with the Kukri Div 1 teams given a Bye. Ballyclare are the current holders after defeating Portadown in last seasons final. There are two matches involving Kukri Div 2 sides with Randalstown playing Ards and Ballymoney hosting Clogher Valley at Kilraughts Road in a repeat of the 2010 Final when Ballymoney won 15 – 14. One of the favourites for this seasons Towns Cup are former 2017 winners Ballynahinch seconds who open their campaign at Lisburn on Saturday. The meeting of Omagh seconds and current Kukri Div 2 leaders Limavady at the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields is another game that is sure to attract a large crowd. We also have Banbridge seconds and Lurgan meeting in a local derby at Rifle Park. Both teams have met in the Conference league at Pollack Park on the 10th November with Banbridge seconds winning 27 – 19. Rainey OB seconds v City of Armagh seconds is another interesting fixture at Hatrick Park. What will be interesting is to see how the Ulster AIL club second xv sides playing in the Provincial leagues perform this weekend.

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP

DIV 1

Two points now separate the top three teams in this league. Leaders Ballyclare fell to their second defeat of the season at undefeated Dromore losing 21 – 8. Instonians maintained the pressure on Ballyclare in picking up a valuable bonus point in their 27 – 24 win over Cooke at Shawsbridge in a thrilling local derby. With Dromore not playing this weekend both Ballyclare and Instonians will be looking to pick up maximum points against Enniskillen and Coleraine. Fourth place Grosvenor find themselves battling with Cooke for the all important 4th place finish and qualification for the All Ireland Junior Cup next season. The Gibson Park side make the journey across Belfast to play CIYMS at Belmont in what will be a hard fought derby between two sides needing the points. Cooke entertain a Portadown side who have picked up much needed wins away to Enniskillen and CIYMS. When you look at the Div 1 league table you will see that five points separate the bottom five teams. Every league point will be crucial in the second half of the season. Teams will be fighting for the losing bonus point for losing by seven or less points or looking to score four tries to pick up another league point. What a contest we have building up between the ten teams with nine matches remaining.

DIV 2

We talk about the contest in Div 1 - the battle for league honours is equally absorbing in this league. Nine points separate the top four teams with bonus points going to prove vital in determining league positions. Limavady lead the table on 39 pts three ahead of Academy followed by Clogher Valley a further point behind with Randalstown on 30 points. Randalstown have two games in hand on Clogher Valley and one on Academy and Limavady.  The meeting of Academy and Randalstown at Roughfort on the 12th January may give us an indication of who the title favourites are. Academy maintained their title challenge with a hard earned win over Ballymoney last Saturday. At the bottom end, Larne secured a vital 40 – 29 bonus point win over Lisburn in a ten try thriller at the Glynn last Saturday with their full back Aaron McBride contributing 20 points. Lisburn and UUC find themselves occupying the bottom two positions with the students still searching for their first league despite much improved performances against Lurgan and Ards. UUC meet Lisburn on the 12th January in must win game.

DIV 3

Leaders Donaghadee have opened up a 13 x point league on second place Monaghan after defeating them 45 – 10 at Donaldson Park last Saturday. With nine league games left to play the Dee are favourites to secure the automatic promotion place to Div 2 next season. Monaghan at this stage will be targeting the play off match with a 10 x point advantage over 3rd place PSNI.

CONFERENCE LEAGUES

Congratulations to City of Armagh seconds who have retained their Conference league One title they won last season. Subject to tables being confirmed I believe Academy have won Conference league two.

GARY LONGWELL HEAD COACH RANDALSTOWN RFC

From Willie Allen 1st xv Manager - Head coach Gary Longwell has sadly advised the club that he will be stepping down at the end of this season after spending six seasons at the club to spend more time with his young family. The season prior to Gary’s appointment the 1st xv won a playoff against Larne to stay up in Div 2. Since Gary Longwell took over the club has made great progress on the playing front with all three adult sides regularly competing at the top of their leagues. He will be sadly missed and a hard act to follow.

Randalstown narrowly missed out on promotion to Div 1 last season after losing a playoff match away to Portadown. Once again this season they are competing with Limavady, Academy and Clogher Valley for a place in Div 1 next season. What a fitting tribute this would be for Gary if the playing squad can secure promotion this season. Gary has been an inspirational figure head at the club and his presence will be missed on the touchlines as he voiced his vocal support for his players on a Saturday afternoon whether at Nelisbrook or at opposition grounds.

We all know the contribution Gary made as part of the backroom staff in supporting the Ireland Ladies Hockey team at the recent World Cup. His experience in top level sport from playing for Ulster and Ireland at Rugby has enabled a small provincial rugby club to grow in stature and become a role model for other clubs in developing players from Mini, Youth to playing Adult Rugby. Gary will be sorely missed for the professionalism he has instilled at Randalstown RFC in the last six seasons.

Weekend Results/Team Lists Saturday 29th December 2018

SONI ULSTER RUGBY PREMIERSHIP

DIV 1

Ballymena 15 Banbridge 36

Ballymena team: 1. Nacho Clandero Crespo, 2. Jonny Spence, 3. Christopher Small, 4. Mark Foster, 5. Connor White, 6. Connor Smyth, 7. Ryan Mattison, 8. James Gallagher, 9. Michael Stronge, 10. Timothy Small, 11. Jack Lewis, 12. Darrell Montgomery, 13. Matthew Norris, 14. Johnny McMullen, 15. Louis McGuickan, 16. Josh Bill, 17. Griffin Phillipson, 18. Reuben Russell, 19. Glenn Baillie, 20. Dean Reynolds.

Points scorers: Connor Smyth, Griffin Phillipson 1 x try each, Timothy Small 1 x con and 1 x pen.

Banbridge team: 1. Michael Cromie (Capt), 2. Johnny Murphy, 3. Corrie Barrett, 4. Chris Allen, 5. Mike Bentley, 6. Dale Carson, 7. Ethan Harbinson, 8. Stephen Irvine, 9. Neil Kilpatrick, 10. Ben Thompson, 11. John Porter, 12. Hugo Harbinson, 13. Ross Cartmill, 14. Conor Field, 15. Adam Doherty, 16. Peter Cromie, 17. Ross Haughey, 18. Ryan Hughes, 19. Ben Cross, 20.

Points scorers: John Porter, Mike Bentley, Johnny Murphy, Neil Kilpatrick 1 x try each, Adam Doherty 4 x cons and 1 x pen.

Ballynahinch 21 Malone 13

Ballynahinch team: 1. Ben Cullen, 2. Zac McCall, 3. Jonny Blair, 4. John Donnan (Capt), 5. Tom Martin, 6. Thomas Donnan, 7. Bradley Luney, 8. Keith Dickson, 9. Lewis Finlay, 10. Ryan Wilson, 11. Connor Phillips, 12. Robin Harte, 13. Ross Adair, 14. Richard Reaney, 15. Paddy Wright, 16. Clayton Milligan, 17. Campbell Classon, 18. Brian Howard, 19. Hilton Gibbons, 20. Aaron Cairns.

Points scorers: Keith Dickson, Ryan Wilson 1 x try each, Richard Reaney 1 x con and 2 x pens, Ross Adair 1 x DG.

Malone team: 1. Ben Halliday, 2. Dan Kerr (Capt), 3. Ricky Greenwood, 4. Matthew Dalton, 5. Lee Barlow, 6. Jonathan Davis, 7. Tiarnan Dillon, 8. Joe Dunleavy, 9. Graeme Curtis, 10. Shane Kelly, 11. Ben McCaughey, 12. Josh Pentland, 13. David McMaster, 14. Mark O’Connor, 15. Rory Campbell, 16. Scott Finlay, 17. N/K 18. Josh Davidson, 19. Connor Spence, 20. Chris Jordan.

Points scorers: David McMaster 1 x try, Rory Campbell 1 x con and 3 x pens.

Queens University 19 City of Armagh 33

Queens University team: 1. Jonny Black, 2. Alexander Clarke, 3. Andrew Weir, 4. David Whitten (Capt), 5. James Longwell, 6. David Swann, 7. Curtis Pollock, 8. Gary Dillon, 9. Conor McAuley, 10. Richie McMaster, 11. Jonny Hunter, 12. Robbie Johnston, 13. Falemeka El Vave, 14. Simon McMaster, 15. Mark Keane,16. Matthew Millar, 17. Anton Lupari, 18. Conor McCormack, 19. Ali Burke, 20. Michael Orr.

Points scorers: Jonny Hunter, Conor McAuley, David Whitten 1 x try each, Richie McMaster 2 x cons.

City of Armagh team: 1. Eoin O’Hagan, 2. Jonathan Morton, 3. Philip Fletcher, 4. James Hanna, 5. Joshua McKinley, 6. Ryan Morton, 7. Ollie Millar, 8. Neil Faloon, 9. Harry Doyle, 10. Cormac Fox, 11. Timothy McNiece, 12. Chris Cousens, 13. Chris Colvin (Capt), 14. Andrew Willis, 15. Shea O’Brien, 16. Andrew Smyth, 17. Oisin Kiernan, 18. Gareth McNiece, 19. Harry Boyd, 20. Evin Crummie.

Points scorers: Ollie Millar 2 x tries, Josh McKinley, Andrew Willis, Chris Colvin 1 x try each. Cormac Fox 4 x cons.

League Table SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership Division 1

POS

TEAM

P

W

D

L

PTS

             

1

Ballynahinch

5

4

0

1

17

2

Malone

5

3

1

1

16

3

Banbridge

5

3

1

1

15

4

Queens University

5

2

0

3

11

5

City of Armagh

5

1

0

4

7

6

Ballymena

5

1

0

4

7

SONI ULSTER RUGBY PREMIERSHIP

DIV 2

Belfast Harlequins 31 City of Derry 12

Belfast Harlequins team: 1. Mark McGrath, 2. Morgan Ellis, 3. Charlie Sargaison, 4. Callum Leckey, 5. Toby Mannus (Capt), 6. Troy Webber, 7. Christian Bennison, 8. Daryl Marshall, 9. David Devine, 10. Timmy Emerson, 11. Peter Dunlop, 12. Paul Kerr, 13. Kyle Adams. 14. James McConnell, 15. Jordan McIIwrath, 16. Ben Alexander, 17. Cameron Kelly, 18. Mark Kettyle, 19. James Bovill, 20. Ethan Boal.

Points scorers: Christian Bennison 3 x tries, Jordan McIIwrath, James McConnell 1 x try each, Paul Kerr 3 x cons.

City of Derry team: 1. James Hamilton, 2. David Ferguson, 3.Sam Duffy, 4. Jack Townley, 5. Gerard Doherty, 6. Aaron Derry, 7. Chris Lamberton, 8. Craig Huey, 9. Philip Duffy, 10. Matthew Orr, 11. Colin Campbell, 12. Thomas Cole, 13. David Lapsley, 14. Callum O’Hagan, 15. James Perry. 16. Stephen Duffy, 17. Paddy Owens, 18. Ross Harkin, 19. Alex McDonnell, 20. M Rankin.

Points scorers: Jimmy Hamilton 1 x try, Callum O’Hagan 1 x try and 1 x con

Dungannon 12 Rainey OB 20

Dungannon team 1. Ross Stewart, 2. Jamie McNeill, 3. Sean O’Hagan, 4. Stephen Todd (Capt), 5. Peter Doran, 6. David Leyburn, 7. Adam Milligan, 8. Alex Gormley, 9. John Russell, 10. John Buckley, 11. Caolan Mulgrew, 12. Andrew Weir, 13. Matthew Montgomery, 14. Peter Cashel, 15. Andrew McGregor, 16. James Gamble, 17. Glenn Sinnamon, 18. Malcolm Allister, 19. Adam Evans, 20. Andrew McPhillips.

Points scorers: Stephen Todd, James Gamble 1 x try each, Adam Evans 1 x con

Rainey OB team: 1. Jack McIntosh, 2. Aidan McSwiggan, 3. Fintan Quinn, 4. John McCusker, 5. Ronan McCusker, 6. Andrew Harbinson, 7. Charlie Clarke (Capt), 8. Michael McCusker, 9. Jason Bloomfield, 10. Andrew Magrath, 11. Adam Hunter, 12. Andrew Browne, 13. Connor Fitzsimons, 14. Mark Mulholland, 15. Michael O’Neill, 16. George Fritz, 17. Callum Smyth, 18. Michael Caithness, 19. Damien McMurray, 20. Lorcan Quinn.

Points scorers: John McCusker 2 x tries, Connor Fitzsimons, Mark Mulholland 1 x try each.

Omagh 49 Bangor 22

Omagh team: 1. Peter Todd, 2. Phil Ewing, 3.Richard Smyth, 4. Mervyn Edgar, 5. James Sproule, 6. Richard Harpur, 7. Adam Longwell, 8. Kaine Holden, 9. Stewart McCain, 10. Stuart Ballantine, 11. Matthew Eccles, 12. Alan Heaney, 13. Scott Barr, 14. Eoin Murnaghan, 15. Stephen MacLaine, 16. Kyle Alexander, 17. Richard Hemphill, 18. Glenn McKinley, 19. Peter Scott, 20. Ali Beckett.

Points scorers: Mervyn Edgar 2 x tries, Jamie Sproule, Matthew Eccles, Alan Heaney, Scott Barr, Ali Beckett, Stephen MacLaine 1 x try each, Stuart Ballantine 1 x try and 2 x cons.

Bangor team: 1. Charlie Clegg, 2. Thomas Boyd, 3. Philip Whyte, 4. Craig Burton, 5. Matthew Nesbitt, 6. David Bradford (Capt), 7. Ethan Murray, 8. Curtis Stewart, 9. Liam Preston, 10. Oscar Yandell, 11. Shaun Fair, 12. Adam Alexander, 13. Mark Widdowson, 14. Nathan Graham, 15. Declan Maguire, 16. James Leary, 17. Orran McIImurray, 18. Jack Cooke, 19. Jamie Clegg, 20. Charlie Blair.

Points scorers: Craig Burton, Nathan Burton, Jamie Clegg 1 x try each, Oscar Yandell 1 x try and 1 x con.

League Table SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership Division 2

POS

TEAM

P

W

D

L

PTS

             

1

Rainey OB

5

5

0

0

24

2

Belfast Harlequins

5

4

0

1

18

3

Dungannon

5

3

0

2

13

4

Omagh

5

2

0

3

12

5

Bangor

5

0

0

5

6

6

City Of Derry

5

1

0

4

6

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP

DIV 1

Coleraine 18 Carrickfergus 17

Coleraine team: 1. Dijon McCorkill, 2. David Greatorex, 3. Aidy Nevin, 4. DD McAllister, 5. Fergal Wiseman, 6. Benard Mullan, 7. Brian Hughes, 8. Josh Christie, 9. R Gillan, 10. Bruce Kirkpatrick, 11. Stevie Callaghan, 12. Jonny Crowe, 13. Gavin Piennar, 14. Bradley Dempster, 15. Brian Cochrane, 16. Chris Breadon, 17. Simon McLean.

Points scorers: Bruce Kirkpatirck, Stevie Callaghan, David Greatorex 1 x try each, Gavin Piennar 1 x pen

Carrickfergus team: 1. Gareth McKeown, 2. Alan Whitley, 3. Johnny McIIwaine, 4. Ian McMenamin, 5. Chris Rodgers, 6. Andy Kinkaid, 7. Ryan Gibson (Capt), 8. Nathan Greenwood, 9. Conor Cambridge, 10. David Carse, 11. David Moore, 12. Adam White, 13. Jack Burton, 14. Ross Crymble, 15. Fionn McCormick, 16. Jack Millar, 17. James Graham.

Points scorers: Nathan Greenwood 1 x try, 1 x penalty try + con, Adam White 1 x con and 1 x pen.

Dromore 21 Ballyclare 8

Dromore team: 1. Justy Savage, 2. Fraser Mulholland, 3. Tom Lyttle, 4. Matthew McMaster, 5. Ross Bingham, 6. Jonny Maguire, 7. Peter Elliott, 8. Ben Heath, 9. Lee Steenson, 10. David Lyttle, 11. Andrew Rutledge, 12. Graeme McCandless, 13. Aaron Stewart, 14. Brian McClearn, 15. Adam McDonald, 16. Andrew Black, 17. Stuart Russell.

Points scorers: Ben Heath, Brian McClearn, Adam McDonald 1 x try each, Lee Steenson 3 x cons.

Enniskillen 3 Portadown 7

Enniskillen team: 1. Gavin Warrington, 2. Ryan Cathcart (Capt), 3. Alan Ferguson, 4. Gavin Parke, 5. David Buchanan, 6. Jack Rutledge,7. John Arnold, 8. James Carleton, 9. Matthew Dane, 10. Adam Lendrum, 11. Conor Hoy, 12. Angus Keys, 13. James Ferguson, 14. Jarlath Maguire, 15. Mark O’Shea, 16. Steven Fox, 17. Jamie Kelly.

Points scorers: Adam Lendrum 1 x pen.

Portadown team: 1. Mark Henderson, 2. Robert Reid, 3. Matty Davison, 4. Danny Alexander, 5. James Wright, 6. Lloyd Gravitt, 7. Jordan Taylor, 8. Gary Hall, 9. Ben Matchett, 10. Brett Flack, 11. Josh Matchett, 12. Tom Caesar, 13. Mark Adamson, 14. Jack Orr, 15. Luke Ashton, 16. Jonathan Reid, 17. Stuart Lamb.

Points scorers: Danny Alexander 1 x try, Mark Adamson 1 x con

Instonians 27 Cooke 24

Instonians team: 1. Conor Gallagher, 2. Cameron Barr, 3. John Andress, 4. Sean Shuttleworth, 5. Alan Whitten, 6. Tom Matthews, 7. Paddy Bell, 8. Massimo Keri Keri, 9. Paul Marshall, 10. Richard McCarthy, 11. Robert McGibbon, 12. David Scott (Capt), 13. Matthew Kilpatrick, 14. Ross O’Donnell, 15. Andrew keane, 16. Jonathan Mooney, 17. Wayne Kelly.

Points scorers: Matthew Kilpatrick 2 x tries, Davy Scott, Paddy Bell 1 x try each, Andrew Keane 1 x try and 1 x con.

Cooke team: 1. Jonathan McClune, 2. Curtis Montgomery, 3. Ian Moxen, 4. Russell Hunter, 5. Jonathan Walsh, 6. Matthew Elliott, 7. Callum Robinson, 8. Jason Lyons, 9. Ryan Flavelle, 10. Andrew Hanna, 11. Alan Gourley, 12. Kyle Mitchell (Capt), 13. Philip Cartmill, 14. Andrew Nelson, 15. Alex Gourley, 16. D McClements, 17. Phil Wood.

Points scorers: Matthew Elliott, Andrew Nelson, Jason Lyons 1 x try each, Alan Gourley 3 x cons and 1 x pen

League Table Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship Div 1

POS

TEAM

P

W

D

L

PTS

             

1

Ballyclare

9

7

0

2

37

2

Instonians

9

8

0

1

36

3

Dromore

9

9

0

0

35

4

Grosvenor

8

5

0

3

26

5

Cooke

8

5

0

3

23

6

Portadown

9

3

0

6

15

7

Enniskillen

9

2

1

6

13

8

Carrickfergus

9

1

2

6

13

9

C.I.Y.M.S

9

0

1

8

11

10

Coleraine

9

2

0

7

10

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP/CONF DIV 1

City of Armagh seconds 34 Grosvenor 26

City of Armagh team; 1. Andrew Morton, 2. Jack Treanor, 3. Kurtis Sherry, 4. Willy Martin, 5. Archie McAlpine, 6. Josh Kennedy, 7. James Morton, 8. Stephen Morton (Capt), 9. Gerard Treanor, 10. Kyle Faloon, 11. Andrew Magowan, 12. Matthew Reaney, 13. Luke Crozier, 14. Dan Reynolds, 15. Phil Pollock, 16. Peter Lamb, 17. Matthew Steenson.

Points scorers:Kyle Faloon, Dan Reynolds, Phil Pollock, James Morton, Andrew Magowan, Matthew Reaney 1 x try each, Gerard Treanor 2 x cons.

Grosvenor team: 1. Mark Cartmill, 2. Stuart Smyth, 3. Mark Rainey, 4. Andrew Kelly (Capt), 5. Daniel Vidic, 6. Taylor Pollock, 7. Conor McKee, 8. Ben Davies, 9. Allen McCluggage, 10. Peter Davison, 11. Jos McConkey, 12. Jamie McMullan, 13. Dean swift, 14. Matthew Fitzsimons, 15. Jonny Farquhar, 16. Daniel Mayhew, 17. Neil Adams.

Points scorers: Taylor Pollock, Daniel Vidic, Daniel Mayhew, Jonny Farquhar 1 x try each, Allen McCluggage 3 x cons

League Table Kukri Ulster Rugby Champ/Con Div 1

POS

TEAM

P

W

D

L

PTS

             

1

City of Armagh 2

11

9

0

2

46

2

Ballyclare

10

8

0

2

43

3

Dromore

10

9

0

1

36

4

Instonians

10

8

0

2

36

5

Ballynahinch 2

11

6

0

5

33

6

Grosvenor

10

5

0

5

27

7

Cooke

9

5

0

4

23

8

Carrickfergus

10

3

2

5

22

9

Enniskillen

10

3

1

6

16

10

Portadown

10

2

0

8

12

11

C.I.Y.M.S

11

0

1

10

12

12

Coleraine

10

1

0

9

6

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP

DIV 2

Academy 17 Ballymoney 10

Academy team: 1. Chris Nash, 2. Lee Moody, 3. Troy Wilson, 4. Keith Dobbin, 5. Brian Cahill, 6. Jamie Watts, 7. Stewart Martin, 8. Richard Henderson (Capt), 9. David Kenny, 10. Jordan Buchanan, 11. Alan O’Neill, 12. Callum Lyle, 13. Mark Wylie, 14. Jamie Wilson, 15. Simon Beattie, 16. Peter Jackson, 17. Jonny Torrens.

Points scorers: Chris Nash, Stewart Martin 1 x try each, 1 x penalty try + con.

Ballymoney team: 1. Matthew Blair, 2. Kenny McAneaney, 3. Scott Gamble, 4. Danny Platt, 5. John McFetridge, 6. Garvin Bellingham, 7. David McKeeman (Capt), 8. Timmy Woods, 9.Matthew Steele, 10. Martin Irwin, 11. Matthew Bell, 12. Connoer Creith, 13. James Cleland, 14. Michael Armstrong, 15. John Hyndman, 16. Jack Dowey, 17. Jack Hyndman.

Points scorers: John Hyndman 1 x try,1 x con and 1 x pen

Ards 27 UUC 12

Ards team: 1. Andrew Foster (Capt), 2. Tom Arthur Donnan, 3. Matty Kane, 4. Danny Patton, 5. Ross Torney, 6. Ryan Thompson, 7. Onisi Burekama, 8. Jonny Harris, 9. Alex Hendrickse, 10. Jamie Cardwell, 11. Mark McLean, 12. Trevor Devlin, 13. David Armstrong, 14. Michael Taylor, 15. Aaron May, 16. Gareth McBurney, 17. Michael Lawton.

Points scorers: Onisi Burekama 2 x tries, Gareth McBurney, Trevor Devlin 1 x try each, Michael Lawton 2 x cons and 1 x pen.

UUC team: 1. Peter Hugh, 2. Michael Smyth, 3. Oisin Craig, 4. Gary Burke, 5. Dan Morgan (Capt), 6. Neil Stewart, 7. Sam McComb. 8. Ben Davison, 9. John Allen, 10. Adam Johnston, 11. Stephen Logan, 12. Jacob Cavanagh, 13. Ryan Ashfield, 14. Chris Allen, 15. Hayden Maxwell, 16. Lewis Henry, 17. David McCluggage.

Points scorers: Adam Johnston 1 x pen, David McCluggage 3 x pens

Larne 40 Lisburn 29

Larne team: 1. Luke Burford, 2. Micah Stevenson, 3. Craig Gibson, 4. Matt Grampsey, 5. Stuart Johnston, 6. Ryan McAllister, 7. Jonny Ogilby, 8. Eddie Hunter, 9. Ryan Garrett, 10. BJ McFaul, 11. Jacob Swan, 12. Matthew Agnew, 13. Jonny Hall, 14. Anton White, 15. Aaron McBride, 16. Andrew Hyndman, 17. Chris Rea.

Points scorers: Jacob Swan, Ryan McAllister, Jonny Hall, Anton White 1 x try each, Aaron McBride 1 x try, 3 x cons and 3 x pens (20 x points).

Lisburn team: 1. Jamie Dickson (Capt), 2. Peter Graham, 3. Uate Caquea, 4. Dave Curry, 5. Kitione Dominiqbau, 6. Andy Hamilton, 7. Adam Jameson, 8. Noel Hooke, 9. Andy Neely, 10. Richard McGregor, 11. Chris Walsh, 12. Ryan Hill, 13. Danis Manso, 14. James Cromie, 15. Epi Ratu, 16. Phil Jefferson, 17. Craig Lewis.

Points scorers: Noel Hooke, Chris Walsh 2 x tries each, Kitione Dominiqbau 1 x try, Richard McGregor 1 x con.

League Table Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship Div 2

POS

TEAM

P

W

D

L

PTS

             

1

Limavady

9

8

0

1

39

2

Academy

9

8

0

1

36

3

Clogher Valley

10

7

0

3

35

4

Randalstown

8

7

0

1

30

5

Ballymoney

9

4

0

5

22

6

Ards

8

4

0

4

20

7

Lurgan

9

3

0

6

15

8

Larne

9

3

0

6

15

9

Lisburn

9

1

0

8

7

10

U.U.C

10

0

0

10

2

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP/CONF DIV 2

Ballymena seconds 31 Lurgan 22

Ballymena team: 1. Jack Francis, 2. Andrew Ferguson, 3. Houston Bonnar, 4. Donovan Waulahan, 5. Scott Agnew, 6. Ashton Logan, 7. James McClean, 8. Matthew Dick, 9. Jack Fleming, 10. Steven Shaw, 11. Chris Smith, 12. Sam Millar, 13. Connor Agnew, 14. O Dick, 15. Dean Reynolds, 16. Chris McLeister, 17. James Wheeler.

Points scorers: Matthew Dick 2 x tries, Chris Smith 1 x try, Sam Millar 1 x try, 4 x cons and 1 x penalty.

Lurgan team:

Clogher Valley 41 Banbridge seconds 7

Clogher Valley team: 1. Philip Hopper, 2. Kyle Cobane, 3. Neil Henderson, 4. David Sharkey, 5. Michael Treanor (Capt), 6. Aaron Dunwoody, 7. Josh Fegan, 8. Ryan Wilson, 9. Neil Trotter, 10. Dylan Eakin, 11. Dylan Crawford, 12. Josh Coulter, 13. Fleming Agnew, 14. Adam Boles, 15. Ewan Haire, 16. Mark McKenna, 17. PC Faulkner.

Points scorers: David Sharkey, Ryan Wilson, Ewan Haire, Josh Fegan, Michael Treanor 1 x try each, Neil Trotter 2 x tries and 3 x cons.

Banbridge team: 1. Christian Trimble, 2. Paul Ross, 3. Robbie Mathers, 4. Kyle McConnell, 5. Matthew Bell, 6. Martin Vorster, 7. Matthew Shirlow, 8. Alex Megaw, 9. Chris Patterson, 10. Jeff Dodds, 11. Chris Berry, 12. Adam Buller, 13. Callum Russell, 14. Adam Cromwell, 15. Grant Murphy, 16. PJ McNally, 17. Colin Bickerstaff.

Points scorers: Robbie Mathers 1 x try, Jeff Dodds 1 x con.

Omagh seconds v Limavady Postponed

Randalstown seconds 36 Malone seconds 14

Randalstown team: 1. Matty McBrien, 2. Scott Stevenson, 3. Gary Hume, 4. Dean McCroary, 5. Kyle Hetherington, 6. Daniel Cullen, 7. Jonny Fullerton, 8. Tony O’Hagan, 9. Tommy Holland, 10. Ben McKnight, 11. Coby Mason, 12. Conor Murray, 13. Jordan Foster, 14. Eoin Letters, 15. Michael Smyth, 16. Brian Gourley, 17. Miguel Conceicao.

Points scorers: Dean McCroary, Kyle Hetherington, Coby Mason 2 tries each, Ben McKnight 3 x cons.

Malone team: 1. Gary Crawford (Capt), 2. Connor Kelly, 3. Sif El Deen, 4. Charlie Shannon, 5. John Sinclair, 6. Aaron McKechnie, 7. Shaun Taylor, 8. Adam McKenna, 9. Rory Lynn, 10. Callum Jeffrey, 11. Darren McGivern, 12. Jack Knox, 13. Dean Hewitt, 14. Michael Brown, 15. Rory Henry, 16. Jonny Caskey, 17. Steve Nicholl.

Points scorers: Gary Crawford, Shaun Taylor 1 x try each, Jack Knox 2 x cons.

League Table Kukri Ulster Rugby Champ/Con Div 2

POS

TEAM

P

W

D

L

PTS

             

1

Academy

12

11

0

1

51

2

Randalstown

12

10

0

2

46

3

Limavady

11

9

0

2

43

4

Ballymena 2

13

8

0

5

41

5

Ballymoney

12

8

0

4

40

6

Clogher Valley

11

8

0

3

40

7

Malone 2

11

6

0

5

28

8

Ards

10

5

0

5

25

9

Banbridge 2

13

5

0

8

24

10

Omagh 2

11

3

0

8

19

11

Larne

12

4

0

8

19

12

Lurgan

12

3

0

9

17

13

Lisburn

12

2

0

10

10

14

U.U.C

12

0

0

12

3

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP

DIV 3

Cavan 0 PSNI 12

Civil Service 15 Holywood 22

Donaghadee 45 Monaghan 10

Letterkenny 25 Virginia 12

Newry 33 Ophir 10

Strabane 31 BHSFP 14

League Table Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship Div 3

POS

TEAM

P

W

D

L

PTS

             

1

Donaghadee

13

13

0

0

63

2

Monaghan

13

10

0

3

50

3

P.S.N.I

13

8

0

5

40

4

Holywood

12

9

0

3

39

5

Strabane

13

8

0

5

36

6

Newry

13

6

0

7

33

7

Virginia

12

6

0

6

31

8

Letterkenny

13

6

0

7

31

9

Civil Service

12

4

0

8

27

10

B.H.S FP

13

5

0

8

24

11

Cavan

14

2

0

12

14

12

Ophir

13

0

0

13

-5

FIXTURES SATURDAY 5TH JANUARY 2019

FIRST TRUST SENIOR CUP SEMI FINALS

City of Armagh v Rainey OB

Ballymena v Ballynahinch

City of Armagh v Rainey OB

Talking to City of Armagh assistant coach Chris Parker changes to the team after the win at Queens University will include Ryan Purvis replacing the injured Harry Boyd. Jonny Pollock who missed the students match will come into contention in the backs.  Both Peter Starrett and James Morton will be available in the forwards .

Rainey Head coach John Andrews will welcome back the experience Paul Pritchard and Damien McMurray to their starting xv on Saturday.

Ballymena v Ballynahinch

January will be a huge month for Ballymena Head coach Andy Graham and his players. After battling back from a poor start to their AIL campaign and securing their place in Div 1 of the SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership the challenge for the coaches has been to continue developing added strength to their playing squad with several of the younger players being given their opportunity against City of Armagh and Banbridge to enable the coaches to rest players. It has been a case of the Senior players having to step up in the All Ireland league to turn around results. The coach talks about the contribution of his forwards Connor Smyth and David Whann as examples set by players to others in the playing squad. With a Senior Cup Semi Final this weekend  followed up by two crucial AIL games with Buccaneers and Ballynahinch January is a month that can determine the ambitions of his playing squad for the remainder of the season. The coach welcomed back Glenn Baillie last week against Banbridge with the player coming through 20 mins on the pitch to make himself available this week. Timothy Small is another player Andy Graham talks about and the contribution he makes on the pitch. With Ulster requirements this week denying them the opportunity to play Bruce Houston, Michael Stronge and Marcus Rea along with the release of Azur Allison to be confirmed on Thursday it will be Friday before he can confirm his team for Saturday. Ballymena continue to develop players and JJ McKee is another example of a player who is now involved and impressing in the Irish Under 20 squad.

Andy Graham and his coaching team always believed in their players and that they could turn their season around. Saturday will be another massive challenge for the players wearing the jersey against Ballynahinch. Can they make it back to back finalists at the Kingspan this season.

Ballynahinch coaches Brian McLaughlin and Tom Rock will be mindful of the demands on their players as they target the return of the AIL on the 19th January. Silverware in the Ballymacarn cabinet is an annual target for the Ballynahinch faithful. With several players having been involved in the matches  against Malone and Dromore there will be difficult calls to be made with the seconds playing Lisburn in the Powerade Towns Cup.

RIVER ROCK TOWNS CUP 1ST ROUND

Randalstown v Ards

Strabane v Bye

Omagh seconds v Limavady

Rainey OB seconds v City of Armagh seconds

Larne v Bye

Lisburn v Ballynahinch seconds

Coleraine v Bye

Dungannon seconds v Bangor seconds

City of Derry seconds v Ballymena seconds

Carrickfergus v Bye

Banbridge seconds v Lurgan

Ballymoney v Clogher Valley

Ballyclare v Bye

Ballymoney v Clogher Valley

It has been tough opening half to the season for Ballymoney coaches Jonny Hanna, Marty Irwin and James Cleland. Several narrow defeats in the league have ruled them out of contesting for a top two finish. From Jonny Hanna – Several players are unavailable this week due to injury and unavailability – winter holidays.They include forwards Russel Blair and Timmy Woods with injury ruling out Captain David McKeeman. Centre Connor Creith has been ruled out with a neck injury with a few other players carrying knocks from the game at Academy. Selection will be finalised on Thursday night. Clogher Valley beat Ballymoney 28 – 0 in the league at the Cran on 8th December with the Ballymoney coaches looking a good performance to turn that result around. It was a tough game against Academy last Saturday. Like Clogher Valley – Academy have a good set piece. Injuries and yellow cards cost his team in their 17 – 10 defeat. The unavailability of players will give opportunities to players who have been playing well and working hard in training.

Jonny Hanna feels his team is as talented as any of the top teams in Div 2 with consistency being an issue this season. Last season when the team fell out of the mix the standards dropped in the second half of the season. The goal for the playing squad is to have a strong finish to the second half of their season and build on their team work and playing style for next season. He is hoping a Cup run can help.

Clogher Valley will finalise their team selection on Thursday night.

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP

DIV 1

Ballyclare (1) v Enniskillen (7)

CIYMS (9) v Grosvenor (4)

Coleraine (10) v Instonians (2)

Cooke (5) v Portadown (6)

Dromore (3) v Carrickfergus (8) Postponed

Ballyclare v Enniskillen

Head coach Mike McKeever is hoping to keep his side as close to the team that played at Dromore last week. He is still without Matthew Coulter, Andy Eastop and Michael Kirk. He is hoping these three players will be available for the match at CIYMS. As he put it there is nine big league games left along with the defence of the Towns Cup in the second half of their season.

Enniskillen Head coach Stevie Welsh is without second row Davy Buchanan and centre Agnus Keys who picked up injuries in the home defeat to Portadown. Agnus Key’s brother Conor will come into the backline with James Carleton moving from number 8 to the second row with Jamie Kelly coming off the bench into the back row.

When these two teams met on the opening weekend of the season (25.8.18) at Mullaghmeen – Ballyclare won 23 – 13.

CIYMS v Grosvenor

For CIYMS Head coach Gareth Fry he is still finalising his selection for Saturday with the front row under discussion. Rob Haldane, Craig Devlin, Pete Raine, and Matthew Butler will be missing from the backs with the coach welcoming back Johnny Haldane and Paddy Beverland. With the addition of a few players home from University there are further option available in the backs.

Gareth acknowledges Grosvenor are a very strong team with a couple of exceptional players. His players are expecting another tight match after CI lost their season opener at Gibson Park 36 – 27. He is impressing on his players to be more clinical and build on their great performance against Ballynahinch seconds on the 22nd December in the Conference league when they lost 27 – 25. It has been a hard first half to the season with a combination of injuries and unavailability along with only two home matches making it difficult for the players. Both the playing squad and the club are confident they can turn things around with a win against Grosvenor on Saturday.

Last Saturday away to City of Armagh seconds Grosvenor Head coach Robert Ford blooded several new faces into the team that lost a thrilling match at the Palace Grounds 34 – 26. Full back Jonny Farquhar was one of those players to take his opportunity and has retained his place for the game at CIYMS. Prop Willy Rea is unavailable and will be replaced by the experienced Pearce Jamison in the front row. Out half Adam Skelton is another player returning this week after being unavailable due to injury.

Coleraine v Instonians

Head coach Benjy Van Der Byl is hoping to field the same team that defeated Carrickfergus 18 – 17 at Rugby Avenue last Saturday.

In the reverse game Instonians won 36 – 14 at Shawsbridge on the 17th November.

Cooke v Portadown

Head coach Colin Atkinson is hoping to retain a similar side to the one that lost narrowly to Instonians last Saturday. Prop Ian Moxen is unavailable with Declan McClements coming into the squad. A number of players face late fitness tests with selection to be finalised on Thursday night.

Portadown Head coach Richard Hedley missed his teams win at Enniskillen last Saturday with the team playing well to get the result. Second row James Wright is unavailable this week with the coach welcoming back second row Matt Stevens and scrum half Brian Forrestal otherwise the team will be on similar lines to last week.

When these two teams played at Chambers Park on the 1st September Cooke won 24 – 10 scoring four tries. Big game for both teams this weekend.

My apologies to the clubs and team coaches I have not been able to catch up with this week. New Year and a family funeral put pressure on my time this week along with taking in the Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup Final last night. I can’t thank enough the clubs who assist in the circulation of the preview with increasing numbers of rugby supporters asking me to include them on their mailing lists. The large crowd at the Kingspan was another reflection of the progress we are making in promoting the Domestic game. Please continue to encourage your friends and family to read the preview and support your local community rugby club.

I would also like to thank Richard Mulligan at the News Letter, Michael Sadlier and Ronnie Ingram at the Belfast Telegraph along with John McMurtry – Front Row Union and finally Gary Watters at Intouch rugby for the work they do in promoting club rugby in Ulster. 

Thank you and wish you all a Happy 2019.

George