UUC 1stXV Take First Points On The Road

UUC RFC 1stXV defeat CIYMS 17-15 at Belmont

UUC got their first win and points of the season as they defeated CIYMS at Belmont. The students got off to a poor start as CI scored an early try in the first half. Try was unconverted. At the restart the students switched on and challenged the kickoff. Unfortunately the ball was knocked on by UUC leading to a CI scrum. Ross Hackney picked at the tail and was put back by UUC’s John Dillon and Jonathan “Taff” Brown.
The students managed to string a number of phases together and looked extremely dangerous playing with the wind at their backs. It wasn’t long until UUC got on the scoreboard. Glenn Baillie broke the CI line and he managed to get over the try line for a touch down. Calum Rowden stepped up and slotted the conversion. UUC lead 7-5 at half time.
The students had to play into the wind during the second half. It wasn’t long before CI conceded a penalty for ill discipline in the 22. Calum Rowden stepped up and slotted his kick making the score 10-5 to the students. The two teams battled hard against each other until CI scored a try against the students. Try unconverted and score 10-10. The students hit back from the restart and soon regained the ball. A number of phases through the forwards battered CI back towards their line and the pressure eventually told as Gareth Millar spotted a gap and squeezed over the line for the students second try. Calum Rowden calmly slotted the conversion. Score 17-10 to the students. The students regained the ball from the restart. An unfortunate error allowed CI to score their third try of the day. Again CI’s out half missed his third conversion.
The game finished 17-15 to the students. Big congratulations to the students for their outstanding performance and great win away from home. Man of the match was a very tough decision as everyone in the team played extremely well. Glenn Baillie who had a fantastic game managed to clinch man of the match.

Report By
Gareth Bell

Winning on the road

UUC Win Qualifying 2

UUC 1st XV travelled to Omagh knowing a win on the road would secure the league title and promotion to Qualifying 1.

Omagh had four penalties in the first 20 minutes converting only two of them. 10 mins before half-time UUC’s first score was from Jamie Ball intercepting an Omagh pass and running three quarters of the pitch to score in the corner. The score was 6-5 to Omagh at half time.

In the second half UUC had the wind at their backs. Soon into the half Ollie Miller received a yellow card and was sent to the bin for 10 minutes. Omagh took the penalty making the score 9-5.  As soon as Ollie returned from the bin UUC worked through a number of phases and Sam Hall ran half the pitch breaking three tackles to run in under the sticks. Lee Murphy missed the conversion. Score 10-9 to UUC. A few minutes later UUC scored again through the speedy former Blackrock winger Calum Rowden who was passed the ball from an Omagh player to run in and touch down from half way. The score was then 15-9.

The next phase of play saw great work from Andrew Winder and Jamie Ball rip the ball from the Omagh winger deep into the Omagh half. Winder popped the ball to Jonathan Henry who had very little room on the blind side to crash through the gap and run in and score. Score was now 22-9 to UUC.

Again the uni defence stood firm and UUC earned a penalty from Ollie Millar from which UUC kicked for the corner. UUC caught and drove forward to the line. They worked through a number of phases and Ryan Ecock another former Blackrock player crashed over the line. Murphy converted making the score 29-9 to UUC. With 10 minutes to go Omagh hit back with a consolation try and converted it. This made the score 29-16 to UUC.

With 5 mins left to play on the clock UUC won a penalty from the half way line. Gareth Millar stood up to the mark and slotted it over the posts to make the final score 32-16.

UUC won the game with a bonus point and are now Qualifying 2 Champions. This day will go down in club history as promotion to Qualifying 1 will be the highest level the club has achieved. Both Coaches Nathan Moore and Brett Campbell acknowledged the fantastic achievement but noted that if it hadn’t been for the depth of players within the 1st and 2nd XV teams this year it wouldn’t have been possible.

Brett loves it when a plan comes together!


The club would also like to thank The Anchor Bar Complex Porstewart, The Senior Common Room and Spar Coleraine Campus for their loyal support in helping UUC take on this fantastic journey.

Next week the students will defend their 100% home record against the leagues in form team Grosvenor RFC on Saturday 21-04-12. Everyone is welcome to come down to the pavilion and watch what should be an exciting game.

Report: Gareth Bell
Pics: David McCullough

Tough win away from home against Skins

Enniskillen 6 UUC 8 with 7 changes through injury and unavailability made the difficult task of travelling to fortress Enniskillen even more challenging for the uni side, but by 4pm it was job done and four vital league points secured for the young student team.

 

Andrew Winder starts flowing back move

With a strong wind straight down the field the home team choose to play with it. The story of the half was Enniskillen kicking for territory and a strong resolute student defence and good ball retention leaving no openings for a likely try, only a brace of penalties gave Enniskillen a 6 point lead at the break.

Centre Tommy McGlaughlin Takes on Skins Defensive Line

 

The students reduced the deficit to a point with a skilful box kick from scrumhalf Winder forcing a scrum five metres from the home team line and an almighty scrum from the uni 8 disrupted the ball at the back foot and several fumbles which took the ball in goal saw the 6’ 10” uni second row Darren Leonard dive at full length to touch down.

 

Moments Later Darren Leonard Scores for UUC

The rest of the half with elements in favour should have been a simple exercise for the students to push for victory however, Enniskillen showed herculean resolve in holding onto possession for up to 20 phases at a time, grinding there way out of their own half, perhaps a lack of desire in opening out possession cost them the game as the university pressure told and a penalty with 5 min to go converted by Whitcroft from 50m out sealed a superb win for the students all fifteen were out standing and skipper Lee Murphy who marshalled his troops superbly all afternoon got his reward.

Win Secured against a very tought City of Derry 4’s

The University 2nd XV squad were on the road again on Saturday past to take on City of Derry 4th XV in an Ulster Branch Minor League North fixture. The Uni lads were quietly confident having easily dispatched their opposition in the home game at Cromore road before the Christmas break. However, judging from the pre-match warm up, it was evident that City of Derry had made a few changes to the side that travelled to Cromore Road – indeed it seemed their 4th XV had been very active in the January transfer window.  The old, wise (but somewhat burly and out of shape) heads that travelled to Coleraine were replaced by younger, leaner and more athletic counterparts. Nonetheless, as Coach McCully correctly stated ‘These are the sorts of things that happen when you travel to play a senior side 4th XV and their 1st and 2nd XV’s don’t have a game. If you have a good enough team spirit you will still win’. Wise words indeed.

 

The game kicked off with the Uni men on the attack. A few early sorties into the opposition 22 were rewarded by three points from the boot of the ever reliable Richard Murphy. Restart kick-off receipt was poor, something that has been a problem for the Uni lads all season. However, what followed next was UUC shampoo rugby at its finest. A few mid-field exchanges and good Uni defence resulted in the City of Derry outhalf kicking deep into the Uni 22. Fullback David McMenemy collected the ball, and in typical UUC 2nd XV fashion, elected to run out of defence rather than put the kick in. The Armagh flyer beat numerous defenders and off-loaded the ball to a Uni player on half way. A number of great ‘take and gives’ saw the Uni lads advance to the opposition 22. As a City of Derry defender put in a good tackle, the ball was off loaded to Stevie Brown coming in at pace. Stevie cut a great angle, drew the last defender and put Richard Murphy in for a length of the pitch try. The two Uni alicadoos on the touchline were in raptures. Murphy easily converted his own try, 10-0 to the Uni. The pre-match words from Coach McCully really did seem well founded at this stage. Yet, for the next 15 mins the Uni men decided to switch off defensively, with City of Derry scoring two soft tries, both of which were converted. The young, athletic City of Derry team had their tails up at this stage and things looked ominous for the Uni boys. However, that man David McMenemy came to the rescue again! Good handling by the Uni backline saw the Armagh flyer coming into the line from fullback; with two defenders to beat he elected to chip the ball over the top. He then duly followed up his own kick, leaving defenders in his wake, for the Uni’s second try of the game. Murphy was successful with the conversion. Score 17-14 to the Uni. The whistle for half-time blew shortly afterwards.

 

The Uni lads started the second half in great spirit, buoyed by the late McMenemy score just before half-time. The Uni scored another two unanswered tries, neither of which were converted. The first went to Chris McClelland after good all round team play. The second was scored by winger, Nathan McCall, after a few good phases of play the ball was passed out the entire backline for the winger to literally fall over the line for a well deserved score. Richard Murphy also kept the scoreboard ticking over with a penalty, great game management from the fly half. The score was now 30-14 to the Uni. Surely this was game over – but far from it! The City of Derry men came back hard at the Uni boys and scored two excellent tries of their own, one of which was converted, along with a penalty goal. The score was now 30-29 to the Uni, and as the City of Derry captain shouted loudly to his players, this really was ‘game on!’. To their credit the Uni lads dug deep, and were awarded another penalty for their continued pressure in the City of Derry half. Murphy converted with ease, leaving some breathing space with the score at 33-29. A few minutes later with the clock running down the Uni boys were awarded another penalty 20 metres out directly in front of the posts. The was due mainly to great defensive work from Stevie Brown with a huge ‘man and ball’ tackle and then getting back to his feet almost instantaneously to steal ball. The City of Derry player held on to the ball for his life, still reeling from the huge hit Stevie had just put in on him, giving the referee no option but to award the penalty. Richard Murphy stepped up to convert what seemed like a straight forward three points. However, using his years of experience Richard decided to miss the penalty and therefore avoid the dreaded half-way restart (which the Uni really have been having trouble dealing with all season) and thus make City of Derry drop out from their 22 instead (I’m sure this must be what he was thinking!!). Anyhow, this proved to be an excellent decision as City of Derry kicked out long from their 22 restart. The Uni lads easily retained possession until the final whistle, gleefully kicking the ball out of play on the stroke of full time. Final score 33-29.

 

This was an excellent performance from the Uni 2nd XV squad. However, there is still plenty to be worked on. Conceding 4 tries is never something to be proud of. It would be difficult to pick out a Man of the Match, but great games were had upfront by captain Scott ‘Randy’ Stevenson, Stuart Whitcroft, Dave Coaches and Chris McClelland. In the backs, Richard Murphy had another solid well controlled game, whilst Stevie Brown,  and Lee Johnson showed flashes of brilliance, but David McMenemy created so fantastic moves from full back setting up two tries and with his fantastic counter attacking earned him Man of The Match .  Next game for the lads is a home fixture in the McCambley cup against Carrick 5’s. A successful run in the cup would really add the gloss to what has already been an excellent season.

 

UUC 1’s turn over lisburn

On a cold winters day at Blaris, UUC went about defending their unbeaten league status against a Lisburn team who’s league position didn’t tell the whole story as they have picked up 7 losing bonus points with two wins from 9 outings; was this to be an omen for the students. The Uni had one change in their team with Ulster Rugby League player Andrew Winder slipping in at 9, Lee Murphy at Full Back and Callum Rodney moving to outside centre. Lisburn had one change also, with whiley old dog Mark Crowethers suffering a late hamstring injury, replaced by their promising under 20s fly half with Crowethers taking up position as defence co-ordinator.
From the off the students were camped in the Lisburn 22 with big carries by second rowers Morgan and Leonard most notable, and tight head O’Neill putting in a work-man like, and some might say dominative performance around the fringes. This possession and territory would turn out fruitless as with their first foray onto opposing territory after a 20 minute barrage, Lisburn came away with 3 points, which was quickly doubled as with the wind at their backs they looked to build up a lead with a long range effort.
Whitcroft at 10 was striking the ball beautifully out of hand, probing the corners but his place kicking, for the first time this season, went astray as the pressure of the chance to go top must of got to the young royal school Armagh man but he found his range on the stroke of half time as the students went in 6-3 down at the turn.
With the ample UUC crowd replenished with festive refreshments provided by former President Alan Sharpe’s Cognac, the support surged through the team as with the wind at their back, every poor kick was pounced on with counter attack rugby. With Jonny and Callum poking and probing up the middle, the gap was finally made after a surge by Lee Sharpe for Lee Murphy to snipe in at the corner, much to the delight of the travelling support. Whitcroft was successful with the tricky conversion to open up a 4 point gap.
From now on it was one way traffic as the UUC team, and their followers pitched camp in the Lisburn 22 as Dunlevey, Henley and Wilkinson’s ferocious tackling had knocked the literal Christmas stuffing out of their opponents. To give credit where credit is due, Lisburn’s never say die attitude was evident as they held the students for so long, but the pressure told as set piece after set piece wore down the hosts, with after a pick and go young Callum was the last one up holding the ball aloft which was appreciated by dad Ivor who made the trip from Wexford. From a similar play the next score wasn’t long in coming as Marty O’Neill scored, putting him top of the try scoring table as the Desertmartin man was again aloof as he serenaded the crowd with some magical moments.
With kicks going astray, the uni were still in command but as expected, with the last play of the game, after 18 phases, young McDowell capped a fine debt for the senior team as he scored, and kept his cool to add the extras to gain another bonus point. With this, the uni go into their next three games away form cromore road sitting 2nd in the league, a point behind accies with the final game of the season in Tyrone looking more and more interesting.
Director of rugby Brett Campbell was quoted as saying “a wins a win”, while captain Dunlevey said “at the end of the day I just want to play rugby, you know, we did it for the gaffer and ya know, you got to play for 80 minutes and I think we did that ya know. its a game of two halves and at the end of the day, baletteli should never have been sent off.” Great words from the skipper there but all roads now lead to Larne as the league takes a break for the festive period with a lot of promise shown by Eecock, Henry and Miller, their youthful experience could be vital as the uni now have 11 games in a row to push on.
It was also fantastic to see great support for the uni with no less than 5 past 1stXV Captains standing on the side lines showing their support.
Exiles legends Keith Anderson, Johnny McQuiston along with former President Steve Ickringill enjoy the Lisburn match.

Past 1stXV Captains and current exiles Gareth Neilly and Nathan Moore

Report
Taff Brown

Pics
Brett Campbell

1stXV 6 from 6

This match billed as a top of the table clash, lived up to its expectations with a high quality, entertaining game of rugby served up by both teams despite the atrociousness weather conditions at Uprichard park. The game started with the lively student team taking the match to the home team with the University back row of Mike Dunlevey, Ollie Millar and Henley prominent with some big carries and recycled well into the Bangor 22, the home team having to work hard to clear their line, however a clever series of kicks first from scrumhalf Jamie Ball whose game management was excellent all day, and then fullback Lee Murphy kept them pinned deep in there goal line quarter of the field.
The weather very much dictated that patterns of play should be tight and probably any expansive play would be error strewn however the opening score of the game came from the university out-half Whitcroft making the brave decision to put the ball clinically through the hands of his backs and outside center Winder made a great ghosting run cutting out and then back in, totally standing the home defence up before he looped a pass to Sam Hall on the wing who ran in for a trade mark quality finish. The difficult conversion was kicked by Whitcroft, crucial within the context of the match, but reward for the 10 who had spent an hour before the game working out how to use the elements from the kicking tee, (proving the old saying right you prepare to fail if you fail to prepare) 7-0 to the visitors with a quarter of the game gone.
As you would expect from a team of Bangor’s tradition the home team came back strongly from the restart and only from some outstanding tackling on the home team midfield by fresher Henry who improves with every game coupled with the uni work horses in the second row of Danny Morgan and Darren Leonard stepping up to the mark by stopping Bangor’s ball carriers on the gain line on every occasion. The students continued to ride out the well organised onslaught and ball kicked into the swirling wind was well dealt with by the Uni wingers Rowden and Hall, despite there effort however the home team never really threatened the young visitors line. The game moving to about the half hour mark, one of the trade marks of this student team is how all 15 players contribute intelligent rugby and a superb inter passing phase from the front row of Wilkinson, Eecock and O’Neill to which any back line would have been proud of released the hard running University skipper Mike Dunlevey who beat one defender then choose to go for a kick and chase option, however the ball carried to far and went dead. Unfortunately Prop Wilkinson damaged a metatarsal and from that point on limped from set play to set play for the remainder of the game.
Bangor score to level things up, which came from the one period of the game when the students dropped there high standards and made several unforced errors, from which the home team duly punished, a kick which would have entered touch, was unnecessarily flicked back into play, the Bangor winger was quickest too react and won the loose ball as he then popped it up onto his support runner a missed tackle let him make good yards and he stood up the fullback Murphy and fed his fullback who should have been brought down, but was not and he scored and the conversion followed. 7 -7
The Students regrouped and went after the next score, the pack dominated scrum and line out starving Bangor of possession, the visitors attacked the blind side regularly keeping the dangerous Bangor midfield starved of possession, their reward for hard work came just before the break when Man of the Match Dunlevey stole a lineout which eecock drove into the Bangor’s 10 channel, a quick clear out gave the uni 9 room to operate and his precision pass releasing winger Rowden whose clever pass to Dunlevey set the big 8 running at the Bangor back three having stood them up he kicked through and promptly won the foot race to put the score at half time 12 – 7 to the Uni.
The second half saw much the same pattern for 20min both teams trying hard but rarely getting into each others 22. The telling score came on the half hour mark when the students tightened up there attack with quick pick and drives deep into the red zone , Whitcroft controlled the pack well to create the right angle to allow a drop goal attempt which bisected the posts to give the students the crucial 8 point lead. Bangor attempted to chase the game but the student’s defence not only stopped them but also turned over ball on key occasions. The home team also did not help there cause by missing a penalty attempt which would have given them a loosing bonus point. The university then showed the safest way to defend by camping on the Bangor goal line and Marty O’Neill and then Ryan Eecock crossing the score line but held up with wee Marty perhaps unlucky as some thought he had grounded. Final score Bangor 7 – UUC 15

Away win in donegal

Great away win for Uni 2’s

UUC 2’s travelled the lengthy distance to Donegal RFC, from the kick off it was clear that the Donegal were out to make good on the 62-0 defeat they suffered at the Sam Logan Stadium. Both Donegal and Uni started off brightly with both teams defending tremendously with both teams missing some scoring opportunities at the posts but it was UUC to score first from some beautiful hands taking the uni lads up to the Donegal 22 but failed to capitalise, Matt ‘Tails’ Hill had a fantastic game at fullback controlling the game well, and importantly keeping Donegal back in their own half with well fielded kicks, but the sustained and constant pressure that
Was exerted onto Donegal resulted in a penalty just before half time, Richard Murphy once again showing his fine kicking ability took the 3points.
Half time 0-3
UUC made one change as Joe ‘Zeus’ McKinney was replaced by Liam ‘George’ O’Discin at the half time break. The second half saw the uni lads start with far more vigour than Donegal, such was the intensity number 8 Aaron Doherty charged down a kick just past the UUC 10metre line, kicked the ball on, and showing a fantastic turn of pace beat the Donegal winger to slide over the line, Conversion slotted over my Murphy 0-10.
This sparked the game into life as Donegal were now chasing the game and the defensive line led by returning backrower who put in massive tackles all day causing turnovers, this never let Donegal anywhere near the UUC try line. From a resulting scrum Doherty picked up a great hook by Scott ‘Randy’ Stevenson beating their seven and stepping 10, his line drew in the covering winger, he then popped up to the uni 9 who got hauled down just short of the line but hand the whereabouts to put a pass up from the deck to oncoming support of Stuart Whitcroft who went over in the corner, conversion missed 0-15
As Donegal were chasing the game hard now, they were starting to throw the ball wide at any occasion but the unrelenting pressure from the UUC backline saw a speculative pass picked of by Whitcroft who went half the length of the pitch to dot the ball below the posts, Murphy kicked the conversion 0-22
The rest off the half saw UUC play most of the game in Donegal territory, but on occasions couldn’t exploit their field position as the lineout was letting them down, but continued pressure resulted in Ty Young making a great hit followed in by Hetherington and it was a penalty for UUC Donegal were holding on, Murphy again calmly stepped up to the mark and took on the 3 points 0-25.
5 mins before time saw Hetherington making a break from the back of a maul beating 2 defenders, a breaking a great tackle he popped the ball outside him to supporting prop Linsey ‘Phats’ McLaughlin who burst over the line, but alas the referee deemed it a forward pass. Final Score 0-25
A great performance on the road for the UUC lads as returning player Kyle Hetherington scooped the man of the match award for his outstanding efforts on the pitch.
Next up is Letterkenny at home who are mid table and a very capable team indeed, the lads will have to hit the training fields this week to ensure a home win.

uni seconds return to winning ways

Uni were simply superb as City Of Derry were the visitors and the freshly strengthened side saw the return of Joe McKinney, Aaron Doherty as well as the long awaited return of Andrew Munce to the second row, the uni now at full strength for the first time in 2 weeks had a team that wanted to prove a point.
The weather conditions were perfect for playing, however it was the City Of Derry lads who scored first from a messy ruck, a hack on and a more than suspect grounding of the ball saw a score for them in the corner, conversion missed. 0-5

The solid front row of Linsey McLaughlin, Scott Stevenson and Dave McCullough dealt with the larger City Of Derry pack well as they ensured unyielding scrums all day long, and from a scrum on the halfway line, quick ball along the back line saw a great backline move up towards the City Of Derry 22, when the forwards recycled the ball well and lock Daniel Morgan broke through several defenders to crash over the line, conversion missed 5-5 it was game on.

City of Derry battled back hard, soon after kick off with a sustained period camped on the Uni try line, but fantastic defence by both forwards and backs shown the way by Andrew Munce and Joe McKinney lead to the uni lads forcing a penalty from City Of Derry,

this was the vital turning point in the game, as you could visibly see the intensity of the Uni step up considerably, and as they increased the pressure in the last 20mins of the half the uni scored 3 more times from Berge, McMenemy and Whitcroft, half time score 24-5

City Of Derry kicked off the second deep into the Uni 22 and a moment of miscommunication saw no one claim the ball and the City of Derry winger took full advantage of the bounce, too dot the ball under the posts, 24-12. However this would be the last time City of Derry would enter the Uni 22.

The Fantastic defensive work of the forwards forcing turnovers combined with the magic hands and great running lines of the backs saw a bombardment of trys in the second half, as the fitter pack led strongly by Scott Stevenson helped open up space for McMenemy, Berge and Whitcroft all to score their second trys. And as the game opened up further sub Tails Hill, went over the white washed joined by Richard Murphy soon after. Final Score was 62-12, keeping the Uni’s record of being the most attacking backline in the league. It was also great to see that subs of Niall Diffin, Tony Colgan and Tails slotting into the game seamlessly.  Man of the match went to Andrew Munce whose work rate was second to none on the day. They hope to carry this team trough to the next game against Donegal away, with their ones are not playing it will be a tough encounter, but the belief is in the squad to bring home a win from Donegal next week 26/11/11.

UUC 2’s suffocated by Inishowen 1st XV

The Uni lads travelled northward to Inishowen R.F.C 1st XV who previously played Qualifying League Rugby until very recently, however undeterred the students were eager to find out how far they had come this year, as they were going up against such a strong team in the minor league.

It was a pleasant day in Donegal, the right conditions for running rugby and the first half did not disappoint, as both teams we’re willing to run the ball and it was 10mins and soft tackling that allowed the Inishowen team to score first down the wing. Try was converted 7-0.

UUC started to realise this was a tougher game than the previous week and stepped up the physicality in the tackle and started to force the odd turnover, however some speculative passing midfield by the forwards gave a turn over to Inishowen from which they scored on the opposite wing 10 mins later. Try converted 14-0.

A quick chat under the posts and the UUC lads dramatically upped the pace of the game working Inishowen hard from the kick off, and the continued pressure saw scrum half Tommy McGlaughlin force a penalty near the posts; it was kicked by out half Richard Murphy. 14-3

The receiving kick was fielded well by Daniel Morgan and a powerful drive by open side Stuart Whitcroft ably supported by Scott Stevenson saw the lads drive deep into the Inishowen 22, A lovely crash ball by Linsey McLaughlin and quick ruck ball saw the UUC full back head over the line 5 meters from touch. Try Converted by Murphy on the stroke of half time. 14-10 and the lads were confident they could take the game to Inishowen.

However Inishowen had other thoughts on how to play rugby in the second half, as the closed the game out by continually picking and driving in ugly but ultimately efficient rugby as the continued pressure from picking and driving led to a hands in the ruck penalty, and it was a kick top the corner, lineout maul and pick and go rugby saw Inishowen score to trys in 20mins one in each corner.

UUC 2’s never deterred from trying to play a better brand of rugby but it was hard for the chaps to get any continuity together with only 5mins of game time on the ball in the second half, but credit has to go to the uni as they never stopped defending as we seen 18 pick and goes from Inishowen and they hadn’t left their area just outside their own 22.

Final score was Inishowen 1stXV 24 UUC 2ndXV 10.
The guys have taken great pride from the game being a genuine Minor League team doing so well against a former qualifying team and look forward to the Inishowen lads travelling up to the Sam Logan Stadium in the New Year.

Man of the match was yet again a hard decision with so many guys making an impressive contribution to the team, but Stuart Whitcroft certainly had to take the honours as he battled hard at every ruck and maul.

Ballyclare push hard

In perfect conditions the visitors to the Logan Stadium were Ballyclare who last season put 10 trys past the students. The game started with the home team having the better of the early exchanges, with the lively Jamie Ball at scrum half pulling the strings, however things changed abruptly when the students tried to move a ball wide and a misdirected pass bounced into the Ballyclaire no 12’s hands, he out stripped the home defence to touch down under the posts, the conversion easily made gave the visitors a 7 point lead.

The students then suffered another blow when shortly after the restart a good cutting break saw rugby league convert, centre Andrew Winder carry the ball into contact were he fell awkwardly and damaged his ankle in the process, to his credit he choose to stay on the field, moving to the wing were he played basically on one leg for the remaining 70minutes and crucially, his presence would make a telling contribution to the game.

The students reorganised and went about trying to get a hold on the talented Ballyclaire team, a great step in the middle of the field from hooker Ryan Eecock who has made the number 2 shirt his own this season, supported by O’Neill and Wilkinson created quick possession, this was moved once more through the forwards hands with the back row ground hog John Dillon making the ball available, quick handling and direct running by the back line saw full back Lee Murphy give Winger Sam Hall a great pass and the big lad coming onto the pass flat out stripped the away defence to score in the corner. Out half Whitcroft slotted the difficult conversion to level affairs, it was game on.

A period followed were both teams struggled to retain primary possession, with in turn each team winning line outs and scrums against the head, but good defensive work lead to turnover of the ball and it was a moment of inspiration from skipper Dunlevey to make the ball available giving the Uni no 10, who always looks to keep the score board moving, tried a long range attempt at a drop goal, on target but just dropping under the crossbar. However the fullback managed to fumble the ball and gave a knock on, this gave the students prime field position. To their credit Ballyclaire survived the onslaught on their try line however eventually an offside infringement was conceded and Out half Whitcroft made no mistake with the penalty kick to give the home side the half time lead.

The restart saw Ballyclaire start the better and the student defence was well tested surprisingly and uncharacteristically indiscipline home defence gave several penalties away, but thankfully the visitors kicking boots were still in Ballyclaire and the scoreboard was not threatened. The students then played some good rugby with Millar, Dunlevey, McCullough and Henley dominating the line out and great defence from Rowden and Hill and Murphy who is securer than any European bank at fullback, saw the students get into penalty range and when the error came Whitcroft converted from 30m out to give the students a 13 – 7 lead.

One of the trade marks of the home team this season has been having the capacity to score at key times in games and in probably the key moment of this entertaining fixture, the students were given the put in to a scrum that the visitors may have felt should have been there’s, 10 yards out, surprising the Claire defence no8 went blind and fed scrumhalf Jamie Ball who gave the pass to Winder who considering his damaged leg stepped round the visitors winger and fullback to score a try. Whitcroft converted the conversion from the touch line, his 12th consecutive kick at goal, to open up a 20 – 7 lead.
Ballyclaire to there credit came back at the students and forced a try with a juggling act by the fullback after a good build up saw him have loose then have again control of the ball as he crossed the try line, to bring the visitors back within 6 points .However the students had the best of the final exchanges and almost crowned a dogged performance by scoring what would have been an outstanding try with every forward touching the ball inter passing through the Ballyclaire defence with unfortunately the final pass going to ground with the try line at their mercy. Final score UUC 20 – Ballyclaire 14

2ndXV Suffer First Defeat

It was a wet and windy day at Lime Park Armoy, the pitch was heavy under foot but the students battled hard from start to finish as the two best defensive teams in the league went head to head. Luck divided the teams in an outcome in a match that could have swung either way on the day.

The first half was a close fought encounter as both teams defended vigorously and a strong referee kept Armoy honest but first points went to Armoy after 15mins of play as they kicked a penalty, 3-0. The students battled back hard and only after Armoy conceded 8 penalties in a row did the students finally take advantage of a positional penalty and kicked 3 points of their own, 3-3. The continual penalty count frustrated the students as they couldn’t gather momentum against Armoy a yellow card may have enabled the game to settle down into some rhythm but this wasn’t to be and it was Armoy to strike next 10mins before half time by kicking a penalty to take the score to 6-3. 5 mins before half time the University lost hooker Jeremy Gregg who took a nasty tackle.

The second half saw the student start the more aggressive of the two teams stretching Armoy from one side of the pitch and Jamie Ball kicked them well deep into the corners, a knock on from a lineout by Armoy saw a scrum 8 metres from the line and pick up from Aaron Doherty drive well from the back of the scrum and quick recycling of the ball seen Stuart Whitcroft dive for the corner only to be denied by millimetres on the touch line.
The students found it hard to create any flow in their game due to excessive penalties from Armoy, however credit has to go to Armoy on their well drilled defence as they played the conditions well and kept the students at bay. It was this strong defence that put pressure on the students which saw a break down in communications and a dropped pass, the quick thinking of the Armoy number 6 saw him hack the ball through, he controlled the ball well to see him go over the line 10mins before time, the converted to make the score line 13-3. The students battled bravely to the last minutes of the game and believed if the game were to continue it would most definitely have finished on a different score.

Although the students were beaten they can take great pride from the game, as it was a hard fought game from both teams, and one of those games that could have went either way. There will be hard lessons learned from this game, and the students shall take them on board and implement them at training to help secure a victory in their next game away against Inishowen.
Man of the Match went to Jamie Ball at scrum who kept the students heading in the right direction.

uuc come back against omagh

The fixture changed from Omagh due to an unplayable pitch, saw both teams serve up a highly entertaining game which had everything for the large crowd at the Sam Logan stadium.
Playing into the elements the students had the best of the early exchanges and after 10 minutes out half Whitcroft converted a Penalty from 40m out to give the home team the lead, despite some further good work especially out wide by Hall and Johnston the students could not trouble the score board.
Omagh then took control of the game, playing excellent rugby first in the tight and then on the flanks, forcing firstly penalties to be given away and then scoring two excellent trys. to take an 18 – 3 lead. With half time approaching the students had to dig deep to regain the initiative, and a great break out by full Back Lee Murphy who fed center Matt Hill, he then released John Henry, who made a run deep into the Omagh 22, quick recycling of the ball saw the second rows of Henly and Leonard make good pick and drives, forcing Omagh to concede a penalty which the Uni number 10 converted to make the score 18-6. Just before half time the university forced there way deep into the Omagh 22 but good defence forced big George Hall into touch and the referee blew for half time.

The elements now on there back and attacking Starke Park end, the students inspired by talisman Marty O’Neill went about dismantling the Omagh team in all aspects for a remarkable 30 minutes, Scrumhalf Winder sniped down the blind side, feeding no 8 Mike Dunlevey and the big man stormed into the Omagh defence, several pick and drives led by Ryan Eecock the live wire hooker, saw Omagh concede a penalty in front of the posts, Whitcroft slotted over to bring his tally to nine points.
Straight from the kick off Marty O’Neill made a fifty yard run beating off tackle after tackle, throwing in a few side steps for good measure before being hauled down just short of the Omagh try line, a great clear out by the supporting back row of Ollie Millar, Dunlevey and John Dillon saw the powerful Jamie Wilkinson pick and drive over the line to score a vital try, Whitcroft kicked the difficult conversion, the score now 18-16 to Omagh.
Relentlessly the students hunted any Omagh player in possession, and Whitcroft expertly spiralled to all corners of the Omagh half in a master class of the out of hand kicking art. Pressure told again and the visitors offered up another penalty which the Uni number 10 slotted over to see the students take a 19-18 lead.
5 minutes later a good passage of play which stretched the visitors from wing to wing then some forceful drives from the pack saw excellent field position rewarded by a Whitcroft drop goal to stretch the students lead, not finished yet further pressure from the hard working Wilkinson saw Miller who covered every blade of grass on the pitch, take and give with scrumhalf Winder, who when tackled saw two Omagh forwards go off there feet and concede another penalty. Alan Whitcroft converted from the difficult angle to bring his match tally to 20 points.
To their credit Omagh never gave up and tried to create something in the final minutes but they could not penetrate the home defence again. A great final counter saw Hall open his legs showing his class, to almost score in the corner but Omagh scrambled well in defence and denied him a reward for his hard afternoons work. The referee blew up shortly after to end a highly entertaining game, the final score 25-18 to the home team.