1st XV bonus point victory v League Champions Portadown.
Superb second half of rugby.
Last weeks dismal performance and heavy defeat at Donaghadee really hurt the Clogher Valley squad. It was a performance which was totally uncharacteristic and one that the players wanted to make up for. A bonus point win against Qualifying One League champions Portadown certainly went a long way towards healing that collective hurt.
Portadown played with a strong wind in the first half and proceeded to dominate territory and possession.Where the The Valley defence was poor at Donaghadee last week,hardly a tackle was missed and the visitors were limited to just one unconverted try after 22 minutes. Portadown were awarded a penalty in the Valley 22 and opted for the scrum. The ball was moved blind and winger Bleakeney had an easy touch down. The young Valley front row of Primrose,Orr and McAleer were having a torrid time against their much heavier and experienced counterparts in the set piece,but they more than made up for it with performance in the loose. Indeed,as the game progressed,
they more than held their own as the Valley pack began to dominate.
Skipper B J Wilson was leading from the front and along with his back row colleagues Steven Baxter and Michael Treanor, they outshone the Portadown back row of Lambe,McCoy and Hall.On the stroke of half time Baxter was the victim of an off-the -ball assault,unseen by the referee. This was the perfect half-time "team talk "for the Valley pack and they proceeded to dominate Portadown in all facets of the game in the second half.
After a period of forward pressure,Wilson powered over for Valley's first try.Paul Armstrong's conversion slipped wide but he was successful with a penalty to put Valley into the lead at 8 - 5. Out half Philip Holme had to leave the field with a knee injury. Aaron Best moved to out half and Clive Donaldson came on in the centre. Full back Armstrong made a great break from his 22.He passed to William Stafford but his return pass to Armstrong was deemed forward.
Valley were in total control and when McCoy was turned over by Baxter on half way,Jimmy Bates and Best combined to put Armstrong through a gap in the Portadown midfield. Best was on hand to take the return pass and dance over for a superb try which Armstrong converted. Valley were totally on top at this stage and when Armstrong,Sharkey and Orr took play into the Portadown 22,Wilson was at hand to claim his second try which went unconverted.
With Portadown visibly wilting,Valley went in search of an unlikely bonus-point try. From a scrum on the Portadown ten metre line,Half backs Bates and Best put centre David Speer through a splintered Portadown defence.He slipped the ball to Armstrong who cut a great line to go behind the posts for Valley's fourth try .Under Nineteens Captain Armstrong crowned a fine individual performance by taking his points tally to 12 and leave the final score 27 - 5 to the home side.
With three games left, Valley still have an outside chance of a top four finish.