First defeat a learning curve for Omagh Accies

Thursday, 31 August 2017

First defeat a learning curve for Omagh Accies thumbnail Phil Marshall was pleased with his teamís efforts despite the defeat to Belfast Harlequins.

Omagh's first game back in the senior ranks didn't go according to plan when they went down 36-14 to a more experienced Belfast Harlequins outfit in excellent conditions at Thomas Mellon Playing Fields on Saturday, but will have relished the experience and look at this game as a learning curve with the jump from Qualifying Rugby last year.


"We had a lot of guys out, with unavailability this week and a few just returning form holidays, but I am pleased with our efforts today. We had a very inexperienced starting fifteen including eight guys who had yet to make their Accies first team debut", revealed Accies coach, Phil Marshall after the game.

"These guys will need time to bed in, adjust to the demands and pace of senior rugby and to realise that the littlest of mistakes can hurt you.

We had lads playing today that will have learned a lot from this and will continue to develop. We see what we need to do and will keep working hard at training to improve".

The Accies fielded a much changed line-up in their first outing in senior rugby for 20 years with four players making their competitive debut for the Accies, Oscar Nelson and Dean Kane in the backs fresh out of schools rugby, and the more experienced duo of Peter Eves and Simon McCarroll in the engine room.

The subs also had a youthful look with Freddie McDowell, Sam Hamilton, Dean Barr and Timmy McKeown all making both their first team and senior rugby debut. Each of the new faces did well and will push hard for places this season.

Omagh made a near perfect start to the match on Saturday when Neil Brown, fresh from impressive outings in the colours of Ulster Junior, made the interception and had cruised over for the opening score inside the first five minutes. Lee Murphy added the conversion for a 7-0 lead.

Both teams tried to move the ball wide and play a fast brand of continuity, but both showed hall marks of being rusty in this opening encounter. The Deramore side settled and put together a very good series of phases that saw winger, Matthew Robinson dive over form an inside pop pass. Paul Kerr missed the conversion.

Strong Accies defence inside their 10 metres line denied the visitors who counter attacked following a loose clearance by Brown, clearly illustrating the minimal margins for error at this level.

Robinson went on to register a hat trick before the break, one a fine individual run through the Accies defence, the other a catch and drop over the line form close in. Kerr added one conversion.

Omagh lost debutant Nelson to injury in the latter part of the half with the score at 17-7 at the break.

A quick start by Harlequins saw them score from the Accies kick-off with possession retained, yards gained up the middle and smart ball retention with clinical clearing out at the breakdown. Robinson dived over for his fourth with Kerr converting.

Facing a huge score, Omagh responded, putting a few strong phases of play together.

The lineout which functioned very well all afternoon was secured with the maul set up.

Omagh pushed forward with McKeown and Edgar peeling round before Jamie Sproule took an inside pass from McCain and reached out a long arm to cross the line. Murphy added the conversion to reduce the arrears to 24-14.

Harlequins added two more scores from Mark Glover and Ben Sloan and one conversion as they had too much power and strength for the Accies who never let their heads drop and battled hard to the final whistle.

Marshall will be pleased to get the season underway and will take positives form the game with the set piece solid and the continuity game looking promising, though they will have noted the inroads the Harlequins side made in attack and clearning out at the breakdown and the success they had in these areas.

They will be glad to have the first game over them and will have more players back for next week, a friendly game against Armagh who also have a bye in the first round of the Senior Cup.

Team : Oscar Nelson, Neil Brown, Dean Kane, Michael Gibson, Ryan Mitchell, Lee Murphy, Stewart McCain, Matthew Sproule, Peter Todd, Richard Smyth, Peter Eves, Simon McCarroll, Mervyn Edgar, Adam Longwell, Matthew Clyde Subs : Sam Hamilton, Timmy McKeown, Jamie Sproule, Dean Barr, Freddie McDowell


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