Rugby: Winning finish brings smiles to Dungannon faces

Jake Finlay in full flight against Bective Rangers.
Jake Finlay in full flight against Bective Rangers.

Dungannon 37-28 Bective Rangers

Dungannon completed their All-Ireland League campaign in style with a deserved bonus point win at sunny Stevenson Park on Saturday.

Opponents, Bective Rangers did not make it easy for the hosts though, flying into the lead in the early stages of both halves before Dungannon fought pack to win a very entertaining spectacle. The result means that Dungannon finish third from bottom on 15 points, five ahead of Seapoint and Bective.

Bective had wind advantage in the opening half and almost conceded a try right from the kick off before fullback; Rob O’Beirne cleared the ball to touch.

The visitors then settled and some good forward play led to a try for centre, Conor Treacy with Gearoid O’Grady adding the extras on 12 minutes.

Bective continued to dominate the first quarter with skipper Ian Cullinane sending Andy Coffey away for a try that O’Grady converted on 18 minutes.

Dungannon responded with an excellent run from Jake McCammon and when the visitors were caught offside, Jack Milligan landed a sweet penalty. James McMahon fielded the restart but a dangerous tackle on him saw a Bective lock sent to the sin bin.

It proved to be a setback for the Dubliners as Dungannon took advantage with Stephen Todd racing for the line on 24 minutes.

That closed the gap to 8-14 and five minutes later a lineout tap from the same player saw Karl Egan charge over in the corner.

Now, just one point adrift Dungannon pressed forward once more. A great midfield break paved the way for McMahon to touch down at the posts on the half hour. Milligan popped over the conversion and Dungannon led 20-14.

Bective bounced back and it took a timely ‘mark’ by Jake Finlay to save the line. However, from a quickly taken penalty Cullinane crossed for O’Grady to convert and Bective were back in front 20-21.

The Sinnamon brothers, Glen and Steven, were dominating in the set scrums and when Michael Lawton made a searing break it floundered due to lack of support with Bective holding onto a one point advantage at the break.

There was a ‘to and fro’ stage at the start of the second half until Bective’s O’Beirne fielded a high ball in his own half. From there he sped through the Dungannon defence to score a fine solo try. O’Grady converted to stretch the visitors’ advantage.

Back came Dungannon and when a penalty was drilled to the corner Bective were lucky to survive.

At the next offer Milligan stepped up to the tee and his strike made it 23-28 on 56 minutes.

It was all to play for in the final quarter and it was Dungannon who provided the late surge. Finlay made a great run up the right flank but his final pass went to touch.

The home pack raised their game and when Bective infringed at scrum time a prop was yellow carded.

Dungannon focussed on the set scrum and after 5 attempts, the referee awarded a penalty try. Milligan converted and the home side was back in front 30-28 with 5 minutes remaining.

In the closing stages the issue was sealed when sub, Ben Matchett touched down for Milligan to convert and Dungannon ran out 37-28 winners.

Dungannon: Jake Finlay, Darren Simpson, Matthew Montgomery, Michael Lawton, Jake McCammon, Jack Milligan, James Bates, Steven Sinnamon, Karl Egan, Glen Sinnamon, David Sharkey, Mark Jenkinson, Stephen Todd, Peter Gilkinson, James McMahon. Subs: Jack Ravey, Ben Matchett, Peter Smith, Daniel Maxwell, Sean O’Hagan.