CIYMS back on the right track
CIYMS bounced back from last week's defeat to Portadown with an 18-12 win over an under-strength Donaghadee side at Belmont on Saturday afternoon.
Eight points in the final 10 minutes saw CI earn the win and captain Stuart Ferguson was thrilled with the fortitude displayed by his side.
"We had to show a lot of character and dig deep after giving away the lead late on, so it was a fantastic effort from the lads to come back late on," said Ferguson.
"What you saw last week wasn't CI so it was important to get back to the way we want to play. There were still some mistakes, but we're getting closer and closer."
Having already lost Mark McConkey to a season-ending injury, while scrum-half Michael Wilson still struggling with a rib ailment, CIYMS were dealt a further blow when out-half Matthew McQuigan suffered a hamstring strain in the warm up and had to be replaced by Jordan Boyd.
Their opponents were similarly depleted and were without the services of their entire regular front five, resulting in the inclusion of a pair of 18-year-old debutants in the pack.
Despite the defeat, Donaghadee captain Ally Lockhart feels the young County Down side can take heart from their showing.
"It's never easy to come up here so we knew we were in for a difficult game," said Lockhart.
"The young guys that came in played well and a losing bonus point is something to be pleased about when you look at how many key players we had out."
The visitors launched the game's first attack and Mark Cooper would have opened the scoring if not for a strong tackle from the returning Ross Hackney.
The foray into their opponent's territory still seemed set to yield points, but Nigel Barker's penalty attempt rebounded off the upright and into the arms of the waiting Steven McReynolds.
CI began to assert themselves on the game, especially in the scrum and with a quarter of the contest elapsed Neil Wallace jinked through a gap in the Dee line to score the first try.
Robin Brown almost created another five minutes before half-time, but his clever grubber kick was just out of the reach of Jonny Castles.
The wait for a second try would not extend much further, however, as CI won the resulting scrum against the head allowing Hackney to gather at the base and touch down.
Boyd missed his second conversion attempt of the afternoon to leave the score 10-0 to the hosts at the turn.
Despite Donaghadee losing the important figure of Chris Hamilton shortly after the restart, they were much improved in the second half.
With player-coach Paul McKenzie at the forefront of the resurgence, the out-half moved Dee across the pitch and despite CI claiming crossing, his pass found Mark Cooper who in turn directed the ball towards Rory Garnham for the winger to cross in the corner.
Having created his side's first try, McKenzie notched their second himself as the former-Ulster and Exeter player's dummy created an opening in the CI defence that he duly exploited to score to the right of the posts.
Barker added the extras and having seemed unlikely victors throughout, Donaghadee had the lead.
Their inexperienced side, however, could not hold the advantage and after kicking duties had been bestowed upon Robin Brown, the fullback's chipped penalty had the east-Belfast side back in the ascendancy.
With five minutes remaining, another strong CI scrum set the platform for a late attack and after Hackney had once again gotten the ball out quickly, Paul McCausland ran in from outside the 22 to set up a thrilling finish.
Dee threatened to respond, but Scott Dowle got his hand to a vital line-out in the corner to turnover the ball and the game concluded with CI going in search of the fourth try that would bring a bonus point.