Clogher Valley 17
A last minute try by Instonians secured a 19-17 victory in a pulsating top of Qualifying League One encounter with Clogher Valley at Shaws Bridge.
Instonians, who won the Junior Cup during the midweek, started brightly against a much changed Valley side who were without four first choice players due to injury.
A good receipt of the kick off from Instonians saw them apply early pressure on Valley.
A series of attacks from deep saw Instonians threaten the Valley 22 and, following a scrum infringement in front of the Valley posts, Wright converted a penalty to give Instonians a 3-0 lead after seven minutes.
A poor restart from Valley immediately gave the initiative to Instonians before a good turnover from the visitor’s pack saw Holme, who had a fine game, kicking long to bring play back into the home team’s half.
Good go-forward ball from Treanor saw the Valley pack pressing on the Instonians 22.
The pressure led to a penalty which Valley kicked to the corner. Good work at the line out saw the Valley pack maul the Instonians eight backwards and when the ball was touched down it was Sharkey who emerged with the ball and Valley got their first try on 15 minutes. Holme kicked a good conversion to see Valley leading 7-3.
The second quarter saw Valley dominating the collisions and really taking the game to Instonians. Holme landed a penalty on 21 minutes to extend the Valley lead to 10-3.
A good break from Sharkey brought play into the Instonians half on 23 minutes. The ball was swung wide, with Armstrong and Donaldson making decisive runs in the middle of the park, before the ball found Stott whose angled run wrong-footed the defence to score a thrilling try under the posts. Holme added the posts to give Valley a 17-3 lead.
Thereafter Instonians sought to claw themselves back into the game.
A series of attacks were however repelled by the Valley with good work from BJ Wilson, Stott and Holme. Indeed, as the half came to a close, Valley were to threaten the Instonians line once more after a fine break from Cobane saw the ball transferred to a confident back line with only last-ditch defence from the home side preventing a Clogher score.
The second half began with Instonians taking the game to the Valley.
A kick through after two minutes saw a try for the home side averted after Ellis won the race for the touch down. Wright reduced the gap a minute later when he landed a fine penalty from just outside the Valley 10 metre line to leave it 17-6.
Further territorial advantage from Instonians saw Valley unable to deal with a kick through on 50 minutes and this led to a sustained period of attack by the home side. A further indiscretion by the Valley on 56 minutes saw Wright land another penalty to leave it 17-9.
The departure of number eight Wilson, who was a key member of a very effective Valley back row, was a blow to the visitors. Instonians missed an opportunity to reduce the arrears further on 60 minutes when a penalty just outside the Valley 22 was missed.
The riposte from the Valley was initially encouraging when the Valley pack mauled their counterparts back over 20 metres from half way.
This however was to be as temporary respite in the last quarter with incessant Instonians attacks the order of the day. Stout Valley defence seemed to hold sway until, after a series of mauls following a line out, scrum half Keane claimed a try on 75 minutes. The conversion was missed to leave Valley leading 17-14.
Worse was to come for Valley immediately after when the referee yellow-carded Bennett. As the final whistle approached it was all Instonians as 14-man Valley with several walking wounded valiantly fought to defend their lead.
In a grandstand finish, after phase after the phase, the brave Valley defence eventually yielded a try in the corner with full time in sight, Keane again claiming the touchdown. The conversion was missed and the referee blew shortly after for a 19-17 victory to Instonians.
All told, a tremendous advert for Junior rugby with Instonians’ never-say-die attitude in the end prevailing and demonstrating why they are the league leaders. Tremendous credit is also due to the injury ravaged Valley 15 for a committed performance which clearly showed that they are in no mood to relinquish the Qualifying One title without a fight.
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