Davie Hayes caught up with the most local of derbies as Instonians entertained Cooke at, their shared facilities, Shaws Bridge in an Ulster Championship Division 1 match.
Instonians have been ripping up a storm in the Championship this season with 8 wins from 8 games in the championship and a 97% match point pick up, only failing to secure a try bonus in one game.
However, Cooke were on a run of two wins and a draw in their last three and after a with a big win at Portadown last weekend they would have gone into this game with some confidence.
In a few of the Instonians matches we’ve covered this season they have had a slow enough start and pulled away in the second half and so it proved in this game. The “home” side did get on the scoreboard fairly quickly though with winger Zac Davidson getting the opening score after 4 minutes.
Cooke responded through Toby McManus at the end of the first quarter to take the score to 5 – 5 and the tit for tat continued with Instonians pack mauling over for Neill Saulters to touch down and Matthew Keane to convert before Cooke replied through a Dan White try, converted by Andy Hanna, to level the score at 12 – 12 midway through the second quarter.
Instonians inched ahead at the break thanks to a Paul Pritchard try, converted by Keane, off another maul before Hanna landed a penalty to bring the half to a close with Instonians leading 19 – 15.
Instonians picked up their bonus point try at the start of the second half of yet another maul with Saulters getting his second try, this one converted by Keane before Keane made it try No 5 with a solo effort which he also converted to push the score along to 33 – 15.
Cooke lost winger Andy Nelson to a yellow card in the final ten minutes and Instonians Michael Melville took advantage of the space to score out wide before Cooke rallied for the final score of the game through Stuart Elwood to give a final score of Instonians 48 Cooke 20.
Pictures by Davie Hayes Photography
Championship 1 Standings at 30th November 2021