O'Brien blow hits Cooke hard as Ballynahinch go top
By Ronnie Ingram
The loss of hooker Colm O'Brien in the first 10 minutes had a major impact on Cooke IIs as they slumped to a 45-20 defeat to Ballynahinch IVs.
While his team-mates stepped up in an attempt to fill the void left by O'Brien they couldn't hold on and in the end Ballynahinch piled on the scores to go to the top of the Junior 2 table.
"With no replacements losing Colm was a big handicap, especially with the throw-in at the line-outs, but I felt despite our reduction in number we put up a courageous fight," said Cooke manager Phil Logan.
"It was only in the final minutes when we tired that Hinch ran in three tries.
"Hinch were a strong side and they always had the lead, but I was pleased with the efforts of new players Charlie Burrowes, Alex Jackson and Ewan Rice who were introduced for this game."
Hinch back row forward Gareth Murdock scored the first try of the game to put them on the front foot for the rest of the contest.
Their pack showed their strength by pushing the opposition right back and scrum-half Danny Carson fed Sam Seymour for Matthew Norton to convert.
Luc Bonnargent broke through for the third Hinch try, but full credit to Cooke who fought back to reduce the deficit to 17-15 by the interval.
After pressure inside centre Ian Anderson took a good line to score and he kicked the conversion before adding a penalty.
Then Alan Hall won the race to touch down following out-half Gareth Robinson's accurate grubber kick.
Cooke started the second period well, but they failed to convert their pressure into points, allowing Hinch to come back with a second Bonnargent try before their hooker Davy Chambers, returning after a shoulder injury, crashed over.
Both those tries were converted, but despite the double-whammy Cooke weren't finished.
An excellent passing move between the forwards and backs led to Cooke winger Johnny Kingham crossing to narrow the gap again.
As the game progressed Hinch won more possession, they took advantage of the slight slope and had a match winner in Carson who appeared to be always in the middle of the action.
He was next to scramble over, from five metres out, but the final try of the match was the best of the afternoon.
Norton sent a wide pass to Matthew McKeown who attacked the line at pace.
He then popped the ball inside for the strong running Murdock to step inside for the seventh.
Morton finished with five conversions and Hinch now head the table after three wins.
Junior 2 RESULTS: Clogher Valley IIs 29. Dromore IIs 17, Larne IIs 17 Bangor IIs 29, Portadown IIs 16 Enniskillen IIs 19