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Cooke succumb as Co Down side move in on title

By Ronnie Ingram

Only six Junior League fixtures were played on Saturday but Ballynahinch IV took another step towards the Junior II title with a 27-13 win over Cooke II.

They have three games to fulfil their programme against Bangor II, Clogher Valley II and Banbridge III, teams they have already defeated.

They have only lost once at Larne II 24-6 but then gained revenge 46-7 at home.

They also had a draw with Lisburn II 6-6.

The Cooke encounter was played in wind, rain and even sleet so there was little open and constructive rugby at Ballymacarn Park.

Neil Jarvis was successful with an early Cooke penalty but the home side defied the elements when they swung the ball wide and Oran Fletcher was sent in at the corner by the driving pack.

"We came back with a try after a long kick into Hinch territory wasn't secured," commented Cooke captain Phil Logan.

After a good catch at a lineout and a succession of carries Jonny McClune crashed over for Neil Jarvis to goal. This spurred Hinch into life and their pack started to gain the upper hand.

A forward surge involving Michael Davidson, Gareth Murdock, Lloyd Jones and Colin Rea resulted in Daniel Carson touching down.

Matthew Norton's conversion attempt hit the post but Cooke's centre Jarvis made sure with a soft penalty to give them a deserved 13-10 interval lead.

"We had the wind on our backs in the second half and a second Norton penalty levelled the score," said Hinch captain Carson.

"As the game progressed we were firmly encamped in their half with Nicky Jones, Dave Maguire and Oran Fletcher running hard.

"After a series of phases second row forward Iain Smith dived over a ruck for Norton to add the points," he explained.

That made it 20-13 but Hinch enjoyed a final flurry in the deteriorating conditions when Carson dummied and dived over close to the base of a ruck for Norton to goal.

The final moments descended into a bit of a farce as the players let alone the referee had difficulty identifying the mud splattered participants and which team they played for.

Carson concluded: "Sam Seymour has been a great asset to the fourths with his try scoring abilities but he is now furthering his career in Chicago and will be missed. We wish him all the best in the future."

Cooke's Logan thought it was a tough game played in nearly impossible conditions.

"We were well pleased to turn round 13-10 up," he said.

"It was mainly a forwards game. We knew they would come at us but we defended stoutly," Logan said.

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