Dromore had plenty of vocal support at Fox’s Field and arrived onto the pitch through a veil of blue smoke and chequered flags clearly intent to spoil the form book.
They kicked off with the wind and managed to charge down the clearance kick, boomeranging the ball towards the Campbell try line. As Dromore pounced on the stray ball to claim what they thought was a try Campbell’s Joe Hopes and Tom Crowther somehow managed to hold the ball up.
Dromore continued their onslaught on Campbell’s line with big carries from Curtis Forbes, Matthew Heasley and captain Ryan Rodgers but Campbell held firm eventually conceding a penalty which Dromore elected to kick allowing everyone to draw breath. 3 – 0 up and Dromore had the start they wanted.
Campbell settled and within minutes had an attacking line out in Dromore’s 22. Hooker Zac Soloman found his man and was quickly had the ball back again at the rear of the advancing maul before dotting down over the Dromore try line. The difficult conversion was missed by Peter Caves but Campbell were now in the game, 5 – 3 up.
Dromore had a man in the bin but Campbell could not take advantage as Dromore continued to disrupt their oppositions game plan. They even had a chance to get back into the lead before half time with a penalty shot but the attempt just slipped wide and the score remained 5 – 3 at halftime time.
Campbell had mostly been on the back foot for the first period but they started the second half at full throttle. The unclaimed restart kick was chased hard and Dromore were forced to kick long missing touch. The ball landed in the hands of full back Lucas Kenny who slashed through the ragged defensive line setting up three phases before the ball was spun wide to Caves on his wing who darted in for Campbell’s second try which he also converted. 12 – 3 and only four minutes into the second half.
Dromore responded with a determined run from their left wing Ethan Mount setting up a promising attack 5 metres from Campbell’s line. Dromore again using their big ball carriers piled on the pressure and when the defence narrowed Kyle Stirling forced his way over in the corner to pull Dromore right back into the match. No extras added score now 12 – 8 on 53 minutes.
There was ferocious tackling from both teams as they battled to gain the upper hand. The turning point came when Campbell’s Hopes stole a Dromore line out ball on the visitors 10 m line and charged towards the unprepared defence breaking two tackles before being felled. Quick recycling combined with accurate control through the phases saw Campbell over the try line but again the defence got under the ball and the try was not awarded.
The relief was only temporary as a minute later prop Darragh Hanlon crashed over this time successfully grounding the ball beside the posts which was easily converted by Caves to extend Campbell’s lead to 11 points.
From the restart Campbell launched a high ball which Dromore spilled and that man Hopes was there to collect it, storming forward, dragging defenders in his wake before offloading to Caves who kept the ball alive with an inside pass to Hanlon. Support was swift and with Campbell in full flow Hanlon got his second try again close to the uprights. Caves got another two points to take Campbell to an unassailable 26 – 8 lead with less than 10 minutes left.
Substitutions, some handbags after a late tackle were all that remained as Campbell had the experience to close out the game.
Dromore can be proud of their performance with a superb first half but when Campbell’s elusive composure was restored they had too much firepower for the visitors. The Front Row Union Man of the Match I gave to Campbell number 5, Joe Hopes whose had an outstanding game although it was a close call with Flynn Longstaff or Luke Johnston also putting in huge shifts.