Omagh affirm title credentials with eight try win over Holywood at Kerr Park
Holywood 12 - Omagh 51
Kukri Qualifying Two favourites Omagh affirmed their title credentials with a thumping eight-try victory over newly-promoted Holywood at Kerr Park.
The County Tyrone side, who finished last season as runners-up to Ballyclare, had a bonus point secured before half-time and ran in a further four scores after the break, although the contest was marred by a serious shoulder injury suffered by the home side's Jordan De Pledge that resulted in a lengthy stoppage as the he out-half waited for an ambulance to arrive.
Speaking after the win, Omagh captain Mark Smyth was thrilled that his side kicked off their league campaign with such a resounding success.
"We're very happy, even though we probably left a few scores out there," said the prop.
"Our system worked really well and our line-out was a bit iffy, but we were really happy with our scrums.
"It's a good start and we kept it going for the full 80 minutes.
"At the start of the game Holywood were in our faces and you knew that for their first home game they were really going to be up for it.
"The injury took the sting out of the game a bit because for the first eight minutes everything was going to hand and we were sharp, but then we started to knock the ball on.
"We gathered ourselves and managed to get going again and you'll always take a bonus point in the first game of the season."
The win proved ideal preparation for a testing battle with Grosvenor next week and Smyth's attentions have already turned to overcoming one of only two sides who beat them in the league last year.
"We've Grosvenor next week so that's going to a massive test, but we're hoping that we can get a win and just keep on building from there," said Smyth.
The Omagh pack provided a strong platform to build from all afternoon and the first points came from a Lee Murphy penalty in the opening minutes after Holywood had been pinged in the scrum.
The game's first try arrived soon after as Andrew Ferguson and Stuart Lyons quickly exchanged passes to exploit a two-on-one and allow the number 8 to score.
Murphy added the extras, but it was in the build up to the move that De Pledge picked up his knock and the game was subsequently delayed for almost 20 minutes.
Following the resumption, Omagh remained on the front foot and added another quick score when, after winger Ryan Mitchell had been tackled just short of the line, they recycled quickly and this time Lyons was able to go over himself.
Having been involved in that try, Mitchell then had a gilt-edged opportunity to add a third when he broke free in the corner, but endured a moment to forget as, already over the line, he somehow fumbled the ball when attempting to touch down underneath the posts.
The injury to De Pledge had forced a reshuffle in the Holywood backline that saw Jeff Gilmore come on to play left wing, Danny Kerr move to inside centre and Kyle McFarlane operating at out-half.
Omagh took advantage of the unfamiliarity as fullback Alistair Beckett scythed though the midfield to score and leave Murphy with a straightforward conversion.
The last action of the half saw Omagh secure their bonus point as, after Gilmore had done well to gather a high ball, the substitute's pass was slightly behind Luke McDowell and the Holywood fullback could not gather it cleanly.
Dean Porter bounded onto the loose ball and the flanker had sufficient pace to fend off Rory Eves.
After the turn, and already leading 29-0, Omagh refused to let up and just minutes after the break some sharp passing sent Porter over for his second try of the afternoon, despite some suspicion that he may have stepped into touch before grounding.
With half an hour remaining, another break from Beckett released Scott Elliott and the one-sided scoreline now read 41-0.
Holywood stirred slightly in the final quarter with two tries from loosehead prop Andrew Woods either side of another Omagh score, this time from hooker Mervyn Edgar.
Indeed the hosts had opportunities for a third that could have set up an unlikely late push for a bonus point of their own.
Fittingly however, it was the Accies who would have the last say as centre Alan Heaney (pictured) displayed some fleet footwork to step inside the Holywood defence and score the game's final points.