Dungannon were emphatic winners in their opening fixture of the Ulster Senior League against Instonians at a sunny and blustery Stevenson Park on Saturday afternoon.
Dungannon eventually pulled clear to win by 29 – 12 but Instonians made them fight hard for their victory in this enjoyable match which featured 12 rolling subs for each team.
The first half was a close affair with Dungannon taking an early lead through the boot of summer signing, Michael Lawton. The home side enjoyed a period of possession and went further ahead with a try from impressive scrum half Jason Bloomfield, with the youngster darting over the line after a quick tap and go from a penalty close in.
The strong buffeting wind forced both teams to keep the ball in hand and the visitors coped well in the second quarter keeping Dungannon pinned in their own half for long periods. The Dungannon team defended exceptionally well during this period and it was probably this defence in the twenty minutes before the break that won the game as they kept Inst scoreless.
Half time score Dungannon 8 Instonians 0.
Inst made the better start to the second half but again struggled to make the pressure count with Nicky Finlay missing a further two penalties. However shortly after the second attempt Inst were awarded a lineout close to the Dungannon line and they Belfast side forced their way over for try to bring the score to 8 – 5.
The Inst try seemed to galvanise Dungannon who immediately forced their way down the pitch and moved the ball to the right where the hard working Glen Telford rounded the last defender out wide and cut inside to score under the posts. Lawton converted to bring the score to 15 – 5.
Dungannon continued to apply pressure and after a series of drives close to the line the Man of the Match Glen Sinnamon forced his way under the defence to touch down for a well deserved try. Lawton added the conversion, 22 – 5.
The home side continued to attack and after a series of bruising runs No. 8 Tim Smith burst through the last line of defence to score unopposed under the posts. Lawton converted to take the score to 29 – 5.
Instonians continued to try to play rugby and eventually got their reward with David Parkhill cutting a nice angle to go over for a try. Finlay converted but it was too little too late with the match ending Dungannon 29 Instonians 12.
Dungannon: Ben Howard, Adam Duhig, Glen Sinnamon, Aaron Fry, Michael Rainey, Stuart McKenzie, Mark Riddell, Tim Smith, Jason Bloomfield, Kieran Campbell, Michael Kirkwood, Glen Telford, Paul Magee, Michel Lawton, Stuart Lester, Rowan Halsall, Craig Miller, Connor Gaston, Ethan Allen, Richard Carleton.
Instonians: Gary Mitchel, Patrick Dornan, Alan Whitten, Peter Corbett, James McCullough, Curtis Stewart, Paul Robinson, Ben McDonnell, Nicolas Andress, Nicky Finlay, Richard Fegan, Seamus Mallon, David Parkhill, Adam Telford, Patrick Irwin, Joshua Cregan, Paul McAllister, Andrew Mairs, Duncan Chambers, Keith Rossan
Dungannon Director of Rugby Justin Fitzpatrick was pleased with his sides performance and certainly Dungannon appeared to adapt to the rotating substitutions well making changes to the team from mid way through the first half. This could account for their ability to dominate large periods of the second half.