RUGBY: Steely resolve helped Carrick to league title success at Coleraine

Carrick got the better of Coleraine to clinch the Qualifying 2 title at Rugby Avenue. INCR13-16 018BW
Carrick got the better of Coleraine to clinch the Qualifying 2 title at Rugby Avenue. INCR13-16 018BW

Carrick toasted the league title with a superb win in Coleraine’s back yard. Tom Stainer casts an eye over a memorable display.

Carrick dominated possession for long periods and, especially in the second half, made Coleraine play a lot of their rugby in their own half of the field.

The visitors did not kick away possession as they had in a number of recent games - the kicking by the half-backs was intelligent throughout - and they competed fiercely at the break-down.

Their line-out was rock-solid and they managed to steal a number of the Coleraine throws.

And while the scrum was under pressure at times, even that problem had been sorted by the end of the game.

Above all, Carrick displayed a steely resolve throughout; even when the home side drew level early in the second half, they did not panic, stuck to their game plan and created the winning scores.

All 17 players gave everything but if individuals have to be picked out then the two veterans, Andy Kinkaid and Aaron McKinney, contributed massively - Kinkaid with his efforts in the loose, and the line-out and McKinney for his defensive work and for popping up as he has so often over the years in the right place to score a vital try.

Andy McKeen was a tower of strength in the line-out and carried well as did his back-row compatriot Ryan McGonigle.

Ross and Neal Marsden, aided and abetted by Neil Hanna, made regular nuisances of themselves at ruck and maul while prop Johnny McIlwaine finished an excellent debut season with another strong performance in the scrum and in the loose.

The half-backs Luke Whitall and Conor Cambridge had very good games and their selective line kicking helped keep Coleraine penned in their own territory.

Centre Ryan Bailey produced one of his best displays for Carrick, breaking the line on a number of occasions and he and his partner Reece Hamilton defended solidly.