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We gave them space and they hit top gear, laments Robinson

Full force: Matthew Poor drives Campbell forward
Full force: Matthew Poor drives Campbell forward
Brian Robinson

By Michael Sadlier

Brian Robinson sat down and sighed before mulling over how it had all gone wrong for Campbell College.

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Admittedly, it was never going to be anything other than a monumenal challenge to bring the cup back to east Belfast for another year.

Head coach Robinson recognised the extent of what had faced Campbell, which was a reasonable call against a side of Methody's quality, but he still felt his side had surrendered too much to the new holders of the trophy.

"It was going to be a tall order," said Robinson after seeing his team concede seven tries.

"We went in with a game-plan we thought would hurt them, but we just gave them too much space and couldn't pull it back."

"You have to get in the right positions to make it count and Methody, well, two things - they don't kick the ball out and they're very disciplined, so if you lose that territory battle you don't get those positions.

"I thought we'd a couple of chances to do it (score more than two tries) and our lineout, which was so good, saw us not really get clean ball just after half-time, which would have given an opportunity to launch again and put pressure on them.

"That didn't happen and it meant that we didn't really squeeze them after their score just after half-time."

Key to the game was how the first half had finished and how the second had begun. Trailing 14-10, as 35 minutes on the clock crept ever closer, Campbell had put two penalties into the corner and were hoping to replicate their earlier, and impressive, mauled try which had seen Harry Jackson get on the end of a black phalanx.

But, somehow, Methody held them out for a vital turnover.

And then the killer blow. Thirty-three seconds into the new half, Methody's Thomas Armstrong was in under the posts after an impressive line bust from the team in white.

14-10 had become 21-10 and that, in turn, moved on to 26-10 when Callum Davidson dived over.

"The one thing about this Methody side is that they have a lot of pace, and once they had front-foot ball they ran good lines and were quick and took their chances," said Robinson.

"So that gave them a buffer, and I suppose against a side like them, who have been unbeaten throughout the season, they know how to win.

"We just fluffed our lines in bad areas and they capitalised.

"Once they got that gap they were comfortable," he added, while also suggesting that Campbell maybe also just had too much defending to do in that opening 35 minutes.

Still, as with Methody, it is time for a rebuild.

"Eleven boys are now leaving and have done a really good job, but we've some good groups coming through, so lots of promising stuff to look forward to."

Even so, losing this one, and in such a manner, clearly hurt.

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