Qualifying League One
Clogher Valley 19
The score does not reflect the Valley dominance in this game. Portadown were rarely in the game and as the match progressed it was only a matter of how many points Valley would score.
Valley started well receiving the kick off and were quickly into the Portadown 22 where they won a penalty converted by Holme for an early 3-0 lead.
The conditions were poor and the game was stop/start. As the game progressed Portadown resorted to a kicking game with any possession they had but Stafford, Donaldson and Holme returned these with interest. Valley were struggling a little in the scrum but Ryan Wilson was able to recover the ball even though going backwards and made significant progress over the gain line on each occasion. Valley were dominating the line out with man of the match Sharkey stealing Portadown ball at will. Valley were starting to control the game and Holme added another penalty for a 6-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Portadown had still not gotten into the Valley half and it was no surprise when Home added another penalty for a Valley 9-0 lead after 33 minutes. Unfortunately Valley relaxed and the next 7 minutes nearly allowed Portadown back in the game with silly penalties and uncharacteristic mistakes in options taking. Portadown could have gone into half time level but McVitty missed two difficult penalty kicks from three to leave half time 9-3 to Valley.
After half time Valley did not repeat the mistakes. The forwards controlled possession and a series of rolling mauls had Portadown in trouble. Valley were clinical in their finishing as the forwards recycled quickly and Falconer drove over for a try and a 14-3 lead after 52 minutes.
Valley returned to the attack and should have scored but a Portadown player illegally intercepted the ball in an offside position, with the Referee unsighted, Portadown moved the ball 70 metres to the Valley 22 where a penalty halted their progress. Valley took the penalty quickly and after a forward drive that man Sharkey emerged to dive over for Valley’s second try and a 19-3 lead after 64 minutes to effectively kill the game. Even then Valley upped the tempo of their game and with Bennett replacing Moore created numerous gaps in the Portadown defence but could not apply the finishing touches.
With 4 minutes left Portadown had a line out in the Valley 22 and their forwards managed to rumble over for a converted consolation try.
This was the first try Valley had conceded in 700 minutes of rugby and only the ninth this season in 22 games.
Effectively the conditions dictated the game and the Valley defence, with centre Dunlop outstanding, strangled any Portadown initiatives. Portadown had five ex Enniskillen players in their ranks and even their endeavours against an “auld “foe were of no avail.
Valley showed in this game their character. It was another excellent all round team performance. Their ball retention in difficult conditions was excellent and although not a day for the backs, their ability to turn defence into attack was impressive.
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