Nutty Krust Tournament Dungannon U18’s v Malone U18’s Wednesday 15th March 2017
The third of this season’s Group A games got underway in the Nutty Krust U18 Tournament under the floodlights at a very mild Chambers Park when Dungannon U18’s and Malone U18’s played on Wednesday evening. The Dungannon U18 team recorded a well contested 29-7 victory with the scoreboard having read 12-0 in their favour at the break. A sizeable crowd had gathered to watch an entertaining game which featured quite a few talented players on both teams. Among the group watching the game was Jonny Gillespie, the Ulster Rugby Talent ID Manager.
The overhead and underfoot conditions were ideally suited to the expansive style of rugby both teams set out to play whenever they got the chance. The Dungannon team dominated territory and possession in the opening quarter of the game with Nicholson Aholeleli, Diarmuid McKeown, Aaron McCammon and Aaron Perry igniting the game with some strong running and carrying skills. The Malone defence had to work hard to thwart the frequent Dungannon attacks with Taylor Pollock and Hugh Thompson getting through a lot of work. Eventually the Dungannon team did manage to breach the Malone defence when, after several phases of play, Jonha Manu took a ball at pace and ran in for a try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Dungannon team had a 5-0 lead with seventeen minutes of the game gone. The Malone team responded positively from the restart when they regained possession and spread the play across the pitch. A clever kick and chase from Jamie Ashenhurst ended when Calvin Mulholland rescued the situation for the Dungannon team and a try scoring opportunity for the Malone team was denied. Good work from Diarmuid McKeown and Aaron McCammon, combined with a strong carry from Conor Coyle, brought the Dungannon team to within striking distance of the Malone line. However, the danger was cleared through great defence from James Caskey and Seif Eldin. Just before the break Diarmuid McKeown took advantage of a great platform being set up by his pack. He set off on a strong run which ended with him scoring a try in the corner. Conor McGeogh stepped up to hit a great conversion kick which saw the Dungannon team into a 12-0 lead at the interval.
Dungannon kept the pressure on in the opening exchanges of the second half. Johna Manu made his presence felt with a strong run. He was well tackled by Jack Kennedy with the line at his mercy but a clever off-load to Conor Coyle led to an unconverted try and a 17-0 lead for the Dungannon team. James Caskey and Seif Eldin carried strongly from the restart and this led to Malone getting some territorial advantage. However, the Dungannon defence forced the Malone team into conceding a penalty and the imminent danger was cleared. Ten minutes after the restart Aaron Perry made a telling break and found Johna Manu running a great support line. A clever pass from Aaron found Johna who finished with a try. The conversion attempt hit the upright but the Dungannon team lead was now 22-0 and they had earned the bonus point. Malone then went through a purple patch with their forwards and backs combining impressively to lay siege on the Dungannon line. James Knox took full advantage of his own clever kick to gather the ball and touch down for a try. James added the conversion to reduce the Malone deficit to 22-7. Malone continued to attack the Dungannon line but found they got little reward from a resolute Dungannon defence. With just ten minutes of the game remaining the Dungannon team secured their 29-7 victory when Michael Conroy, having gathered a Malone clearance kick, outpaced the Malone defence to run in for a try which was converted by James Knox.
As usual with the Nutty Krust Tournament the players all received a post-match meal which was sponsored by Jim Hewitt Meats, prepared by the staff in “Scrummies” kitchen and organised by the ever present Sid Rowe. All players, as well as their coaches, received a Nutty Krust loaf on departure.
Sid Rowe then presented the impressive Dungannon No 7, Johna Manu, with the Nutty Krust “Man of the Match Award” at the post match ceremony.
Another Group B game in the 2017 Nutty Krust Tournament will see Portadown U18’s play Ballynahinch U18’s at 7-45pm on Wednesday 22nd March under the Chambers Park floodlights. All supporters will be made to feel very welcome.
Updated 19:27 - 16 Mar 2017 by Stephen Barbour