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Dromore Cooke up their first win

By Jonathan Bradley

Dromore scored seventeen second half points to secure an impressive away win over Cooke in a game that burst into life after the interval.

The game yielded only five points for each side before the turn but converted tries from Graham McCandless and Tom Finn in the second half ensured a first win of the season for De Wet Becker's side.

The head coach was thrilled with the way his under-strength side competed throughout the game, commenting afterwards: "I'm more proud of the guys than anything else after that performance.

"It was a really gutsy game from us, especially with a lot of guys missing.

"The guys that stepped in all played out of their skin and it was a really great effort at 80 minute rugby.

"It was still tense at the end but I thought we managed to control the last 10 minutes quite well and make sure we were playing in their half rather than ours.

"It was massive to get a win after losing last week and if we're going to push for a top four place then the main thing was to get back on a winning streak."

The sides began the season last weekend in contrasting fashion with Cooke securing a bonus-point win at Coleraine and Dromore suffering a home defeat to Donaghadee.

That pattern looked set to continue in the early stages of the contest as Cooke appeared the stronger of the two sides throughout the first quarter.

Despite their pre-game preparations being thrown into disarray with an early injury to hooker Ian Moxen, the home side dominated territory only to see a number of attacks pass through several phases but break down within touching distance of the line.

The south Belfast side did belatedly manage to take the lead through Phillip Doherty, however, when the centre picked the ball up after a scrum and evaded the despairing tackles of several Dromore players to score.

The deficit seemed to spark Dromore into life and the visitors were able to respond before the break.

With the referee playing advantage after a Cooke infraction in the ruck, Ryan Cobb cleverly used the free ball to send an ambitious looping pass out to Chris Jenks on the right that the winger took in his stride before sliding over in the corner.

Cobb could not add the testing conversion and the half ended with the score tied at five apiece.

Dromore struck first after the turn when, with less than five minutes of the half played, Graham McCandless was able to break a number of tackles to score a try that will have had the Cooke coaches questioning their defence.

Alan Gourley responded with a penalty but a further converted try put Dromore in control of the game.

Cooke had been on the attack but errant passing allowed Tom Finn, returning to the Dromore side this season after a number of years away at university, to retrieve the loose ball and accelerate over the line from inside his own half.

Cobb added the extras in a routine fashion to put Dromore into a 19-8 lead.

Cooke were soon back in the game however after fullback Alex Gourley broke from deep and, after skipping through a series of less than solid tackles, offloaded to his brother Alan who crossed the line with relative ease.

The winger converted his own score with the aid of a fortunate bounce off the post to bring his side within four points.

A penalty from Cobb moments later extended that advantage to seven points leaving Cooke in need of a converted try to draw level with only ten minutes remaining.

Rory Pepper got a hand to a Liam Bennett's lineout throw on the edge of the 22 to end a period of sustained Cooke pressure and the game concluded with Dromore looking the more likely to add the next score.

Belfast Telegraph


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