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Portadown's quality never in doubt: Hedley's men aim to use Cup run as a spur

Portadown 35-11 Dromore

Portadown advanced to the quarter-finals of the Powerade Towns Cup thanks to a convincing 35-11 win over Kukri Qualifying One rivals Dromore at Chambers Park on Saturday.

The score stood at just 11-8 at half-time but the home side ran in three scores after the turn to seal victory.

Having spent considerable time as a senior club, the County Antrim side have not won the trophy since two successes in the late 1950s but they will now be optimistic of making the Easter Monday final at the Kingspan Stadium.

Dromore were not the only Qualifying One team to fall at the second round stage with Bangor, perhaps with one eye on this weekend's All-Ireland Junior Cup final, beaten by Armagh's seconds.

There were also victories for holders Clogher Valley over Coleraine and Donaghadee against Holywood.

Ballymena IIs and Ballynahinch IIs were also victorious, while Enniskillen and Carrickfergus will represent Qualifying Two in the next round.

Dromore had beaten Portadown earlier in the season - winning 11-6 at Barban Hill back in November - but they never led in Saturday's contest with Chris Cousins starting the scoring with a penalty after five minutes.

With 10 minutes on the clock, Ryan Cobb led a break upfield and, when Alistair Kinghan and Colin McGreggor protected the ball well, Portadown were penalised at the breakdown.

Having started the attack, Cobb knocked over the resulting penalty for a 3-3 tie.

With a quarter of the game gone, the first try of the contest arrived.

When Dromore were pinged for not rolling away, Cousins kicked for the corner and the Ports pack were able to exert their influence from the maul.

Peter Lamb's throw was on target and the visitors never looked like halting the charge that ended with Aaron Abraham touching down. The conversion was drilled wide.

Cobb had a chance to reduce the arrears with a penalty that drifted wide but Graham Cloke's side would achieve parity soon after.

Just as Portadown had done previously, Dromore were able to produce a try via the rolling maul, with Adam MacGregor providing the finish.

The conversion attempt was pushed across the face of the posts and the score was knotted at eight apiece.

Portadown almost mounted a quick response when Ryan Purvis broke forward with intent but Aaron Stewart was able to chase him down just as the fullback looked set to release Robert Reid.

The attack did bring three points however and Richard Hedley's men retook the lead from a penalty.

They threatened to score again before half-time after earning lineouts in some promising positions but a series of knock-ons ensured there would be no further tries before the break.

After the turn, Cousins took one of two early chances off the tee to double the lead while Lee Steenson - on as a substitute for Dromore - sliced a penalty attempt off the left upright. The scrum-half did make amends soon after, however, as he brought his side within three points.

However, with a quarter of an hour remaining, Portadown captain Johnny Holden gave his side some breathing space with a well taken try.

Ollie Montels broke forward before releasing his midfield partner, who produced a step to move inside Dromore's fullback Koos Kotze and touch down. The conversion from Cousins provided the extras.

Soon after, Gareth McCoy made the game safe when he broke from deep to force his way over.

Cousins again was sure-footed with the conversion and, at 28-11, there was no way back for the visitors.

With progress assured, Portadown added a further converted try in the closing stages.

After their cup exit, Dromore will be looking to bounce back in the league this weekend as their battle to finish in the top four, and secure a place in next season's All-Ireland Junior Cup, takes them to Ballymoney.

At the same time, Portadown's quest to reach the top four for a third successive season resumes with a trip to Donaghadee and they will look to carry the momentum from this victory into a league campaign that has seen them lose four games in a row.

Belfast Telegraph

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