Coleraine seal league competition and promotion to Division 1
Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship Division 1 beckons for next season
Coleraine secured top spot in the league and promotion to Division 1 of the Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship next season with a hard won losing bonus point away to Grosvenor on Saturday.
It was the ‘Cookstown’ sponsored Coleraine side’s first defeat of the league campaign this year but the 23-16 score line was enough to gain a bonus point and that one point creates an unassailable lead over second place CIYMS. Promotion back into Division 1 is now assured, after a three-year absence.
The celebration was muted as the side came to terms that they had won the league, but at the price of the first loss of the league campaign. There was a general recognition that Grosvenor had produced the better performance on the day but now the team look forward to the remaining two fixtures of the season and they will be intent on a return to winning ways.
This week Coleraine travel to bottom placed Donaghadee and the following week entertain Randalstown in the final fixture of the season. That meeting will be a fitting finale against the fourth placed team and a mighty spectacle of rugby can be expected.
In the game on Saturday the Grosvenor side put down the first marker with a try within seven minutes of the start. From a penalty in a Coleraine line-out Grosvenor forced their way over the line for a converted try. 7-0
Three minutes later, from the restart, Coleraine attacked the Grosvenor line and were rewarded with a penalty which captain Mikey Poskitt slotted between the posts from 25 metres. 7-3
Continuing the trend the home side attacked from their restart and were also awarded a penalty which was on target right in front of the posts. 10-3
Yet again the restart saw Coleraine attack and claim a penalty, but this time the kick went wide. Five minutes later Coleraine closed the gap with a Poskitt penalty from 30 metres. 10-6
As the half moved to a close Grosvenor sliced through the Coleraine defence, scoring a converted try under the posts. 17-6
With minutes left on the clock Coleraine made a foray into the Grosvenor half and earned another penalty, Poskitt on target to narrow the lead to 17-9 at the break.
Right from the second half whistle Grosvenor went on the offensive and claimed another three points from yet another penalty. 20-9
Ten minutes in, Coleraine launched an incisive attack, Kyle McAuley, Alan Clarke and Poskitt attacking on the wing, Poskitt making the final 20-metre dash to the line to score. Poskitt also converted. 20-16
Five minutes later Grosvenor saw another penalty fall just short as both sides fought for superiority, attack and defence all working hard.
The final points went to Grosvenor from a penalty conversion deep in the Coleraine half. Despite strenuous efforts from both sides, it was the home team to clinch the victory and spoil Coleraine’s unbeaten league record. 23-16
This weekend Coleraine Firsts travel to Donaghadee in the penultimate game of the season, the Seconds travel to Strabane and the Thirds are away to Carrick.
Coleraine First XV: D McCorkell, D Greatorex, C Nash, M Ferguson, J Christie, R Bonnar, S Dickey, R McAuley, R Strang, S Callaghan, K McAuley, M Poskitt, A Clarke, B Cochrane. Subs: P Wisener, DD McAllister.