New Year derby delight for Accies.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

New Year derby delight for Accies. thumbnail Omagh Accies’ Stuart Allen in action in the 22-15 win over Dungannon.

OMAGH Accies prepared for the next round of AIL fixtures with a morale boosting 22-15 win over Dungannon in heavy conditions at Thomas Mellon Playing Fields on Saturday in an Ulster League fixture.


The pitch stood up well to the pounding the weather has been giving it over the past few months and despite being wet, provided a good surface for both teams who were content on playing attractive rugby.

The large Yule time crowd firstly saw a tribute to the late Dai Watterson, the first ever captain of the Accies in 1952 and in fitting fashion saw this year's first fifteen put on a solid all-round display to defeat their neighbours for the first time in a competitive league encounter between the two sides.

Dungannon kicked off and despite having a bigger, more experienced side playing in an AIL division above Omagh, were rocked after three minutes by a double whammy. A loose box kick was retuned in style by the hard running and tackling Matty Eccles on the right wing before being presented in midfield.

Scott Elliott then jinked and ghosted his way past a multitude of defenders in a mazy run which mesmerised the Stevenson Park sides defence and saw him dive over in emphatic style under the posts to take the lead. He goaled the conversion himself.

Dungannon made a midfield break minutes later but were unable to keep the attack going courtesy of some very fine midfield tackling by Luke Hanson and Scott Barr in particular. The set piece was solid as well despite the home side giving up much size, and despite difficult conditions, the Accies looked to play quick tempo rugby and utilise a creative back division.

Omaghs half backs Stewart McCain and Elliott controlled the game in the first half, McCain with good options, making one tidy blindside break, and Elliott also mixing up his game well, intelligently kicking in to space and backing the chasing defence to gain ter ritory.

The one time the Accies defence stepped up too quickly was punished in emphatic style when the ball was shipped left quickly from midfield and the Dungannon winger, Montgomery skimmed over the sticky surface to go under the posts for Jake Finlay to convert and tie the score.

Hanson and Ryan Mitchell combined for a neat blindside break as Omagh tried to tire the bigger visiting side, while the biggest cheer of the afternoon was reserved for a bone-crunching tackle by Eccles on his opposite number, halting a dangerous attack in some style.

An injury to Dungannon front row Rodney Bennett saw the half end in unfortunate circumstances.

Half time 7-7

Elliott was on song early in the second half with a well taken penalty from 35 metres out to extend the lead as the game got niggly in part with the art of tackling forgotten and an occasional stray shoulder introduced.

An early Injury to Adam Pollock saw Philip Ewing play most of the match and the young hooker responded with his best game for the club, solid in the set piece and energetic in the loose, while the returning Johnny Sproule added size and strength up front, carrying the ball effectively as well.

A slick move on the blindside involving Ryan Mitchell and Stephen MacLaine was straight off the training park with the two combining well form a loose kick which did not make touch.

The linked in a slick counter attack, made great ground close to the touchline and when stopped, fed the supporting Mervyn Edgar in full tilt. The versatile forward took a great line and cruised through to notch the try and extend the lead to 15-7 with the conversion narrowly side.

Dungannon responded immediately. Winning the restart, the moved the ball across the park and caused the Accies some concern before Peter Todd, who had another impressive performance in the scrum, was pinged for offside. Finlay added the penalty.

In what was becoming a game of attack and counter -attack, the Accies scored almost immediately themselves. The counter ruck, which was impressive all day and put the Stevenson Park men on the back foot, not committing numbers to the breakdown, forced the ball free and was seized upon by Todd.

The versatile front rower fed James Catterson who embarked on a typical bustling run, drawing defenders, before slipping the ball inside to the supporting Todd who gratefully accepted and went over from a couple of metres out to register a well taken try form nothing.

Elliott added the conversion to take a 22-10 lead on the hour mark. This lead allowed Marshall to empty the bench and give everyone meaningful game time with Stuart Allen getting a run out, Lee Murphy returning to the side and Eoin Murnaghan showing he can do a job in the centre.

Dungannon added a late try from close in through their flanker, McKenzie before the game moved to uncontested scrums following another injury to a front row player.

Finlay was unable to convert and though they tried to move the ball in search of a game tying score, were well corralled by a well organised and marshalled defence which allowed the home side to comfortably see the game out and register an inaugural victory over a Dungannon first fifteen.

Omagh will be delighted, not only with the win, but a fairly clean bill of health ahead of next week's game, but also strong performances from Sproule , the returning Richard Harpur, Stephen MacLaine, and Matty Eccles meaning training and selection next week will be interesting.

The Accies now go to Bangor on Saturday in an AIL fixture. Kick off 2.30pm.

Team : Peter Todd, Adam Pollock, Richard Smyth, Jonny Sproule, Mervyn Edgar, Richard Harpur, James Catterson, Matthew Clyde, Stewart McCain(c), Lee Murphy, Matty Eccles, Luke Hanson, Scott Barr, Ryan Mitchell, Stephen MacLaine

Subs : Kyle Alexander, Philip Ewing, Stuart Allen, Eoin Murnaghan, Lee Murphy


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