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Accies under-18s defeat Banbridge to reach semis

 Luke Murnaghan receives the man of the match award


Luke Murnaghan receives the man of the match award

Omagh U18s    18
Banbridge U18s    5

OMAGH ACCIES qualified for the semi-finals of the Nutty Krust tournament after defeating Banbridge in the final group game under lights in Portadown. Both teams had previously beaten Ballynahinch to set up this winner takes all clash, which remained in the balance right up to the end.

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Omagh started brightly having the better of the early exchanges. They set about taking ball into contact and quickly recycling possession to keep their opponents on the back foot. Banbridge struggled to cope and five minutes in conceded a penalty in front of their posts which Luke Murnaghan converted to give Omagh the lead.

The Accies continued to press with James Convey, Jamie Rainey and Gavin Reid making strong carries. Eleven minutes in Banbridge again infringed at the breakdown and Murnaghan stepped up to double Omagh’s lead from the resultant penalty.

Banbridge regrouped and went on the offensive using their big runners to push Omagh back. A period of pressure in the Accies ‘22’ was eventually rewarded when the Banbridge winger found a gap to squeeze in at the corner. The conversion was missed to leave the score 6-5 with ten minutes of the half remaining. Both teams now went toe to toe in search of the next crucial score.

Banbridge’s attempts to use their centres to break through were thwarted by the solid Omagh pairing of Nathan Cummings and Jimmy Choi in midfield. Omagh were using their solid scrum as a launch pad for attacks, were the front row of Aaron Finlay, Philip Ewing and Michael McColgan were more than a match for their larger opposite numbers. Neither side could create a breakthrough and half time arrived without further scoring. 

Omagh reshuffled their back row for the second half, moving Cameron Clements to blindside and bringing on Matthew Clyde at number eight. This gave Omagh extra impetus in the second period, as Clyde made some trade mark breaks from the base of the scrum linking with Reid and Clements to set up some good field positions.

Although Omagh were now dominating possession, the Banbridge defensive line held firm, and play became centered around the halfway line.

Banbridge tried to exert pressure by kicking deep but Andrew Hall at full back was rock solid easily dealing with the threat. With the game going into the final quarter Omagh continued to play the more controlled rugby going through the phases, retaining the ball and pushing their opponents back. With ten minutes remaining some great interplay between backs and forwards set up good field position, Clements then broke through before off loading to James Rutledge who crashed over close to the posts. Murnaghan added the extras to stretch the lead to eight points. Omagh could now smell victory, and finished the game camped in their opponents half.

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With the final play of the game, after Ben Beattie was stopped short, Rutledge was on hand to gather and spin over for his second try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful as Omagh finished the game deserved 18-5 winners. Omagh’s name now goes into the hat for the semi final draw which will take place on March 30th, with the games to be played on 12th and 13th April.

Omagh: A Finlay, P Ewing, M McColgan, J Rainey, J Convey, G Reid, J Rutledge, C Clements, L Murnaghan, J Adams, N Cummings, J Choi, A Jeffery, A Hall. Subs, M Clyde, B Beattie, L Rennick, D Roulston.

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