As the light began to fade at our Energia AIL Women’s match at Shawsbridge, I hopped over the hoardings to cover the second half of this Ulster Rugby Championship game under the floodlights.
I’d been chatting about this game at my schools match in Ballyclare that morning and the general consensus was a win for Dromore and, as I settled into my position pitch side, the game seemed to be heading that way with Instonians trailing 3 – 14, minutes into the second half.
Instonians had taken an early lead through a Scott Mclean penalty before Dromore responded through tries from Josh Pentland and Adam McDonald, both converted by Lee Steenson, in a ten minute burst while the home side were down to 14 due to a yellow card.
As I settled onto my stool I was joined by a Dromore player who was also given a ten minute rest and, similarly to Dromore in the first half, Instonians took full advantage of their numeric superiority.
After a couple of darts on the left the ball was switched to the right for Matt Kilpatrick to score in the corner for an excellent touchline conversion by Scott Mclean to take the score to 10 – 14 .
Accurate fielding of the restarts and a strong defensive kick chase yielded another six points for the home side, from the boot of Mclean, and as he stepped up to nail his fourth penalty, at the start of the final quarter, it looked a long way back for Dromore – who had conceded 16 points, to trail 19 – 14, without reply.
However, Dromore finally worked out they were losing the kicking battle and they looked a much better team with ball in hand as they were forced to run from deep. Pentland, McDonald and Ben Heath all made good ground and it was a dart by McDonald that led to the winning score.
The full back was hauled down just short of the line and, after passing through a couple of pairs of hands, the ball was knocked on for a scrum to Instonians. However there was no distance in the clearing kick and the resulting line out saw the Dromore pack heading for the line only to be brought down for a penalty try. Seven points and a 19 – 21 lead for the visitors.
There were still eight or nine minutes left and Instonians had a couple of glimpses of opportunity, but they were fleeting. Once Dromore got their mitts on the ball in the closing minutes it looked ominous for the home side and so it proved with the visitors closing out the game in possession.
Big gallery below.