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Match Report: Donaghadee 1XV v Academy 1XV - 17.02.2024

Match Report: Donaghadee 1XV v Academy 1XV - 17.02.2024

Mark Poole21 Feb - 19:29
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Dee make things hard for Academy

Match report by Geoff Ingham
Photo Credit - Ian Adamson

Donaghadee welcomed Academy to Donaldson Park for their penultimate home Championship League game.

With several players still on the injury list and others unavailable there were several changes to the Dee’s line up. Stephen Gillam came into the middle of the front row and the impressive Daniel Onstwedder moved into the number 8 position. Robbie Grant took his place in a centre partnership with Mark Cooper and Aaron McKee and Ollie McCormac filled the wing berths, with Adam McGrath starting at fullback. Dylan Robinson made a welcome return from injury to take a place on the bench alongside Andy McCracken in his first appearance of the year.

The pitch was still moist due to the heavy rain earlier in the week but as kick off approached a heavy downpour made the ground just about playable. The visitors started strongly and tested the Dee’s defence on several occasions. The Dee’s first up tackling was good and they were able to hold Academy at bay for the first quarter of an hour. Eventually, however, Academy opened the scoring when their heavier pack scored a pushover try from a 5-metre scrum. Dee then enjoyed some possession but a couple of handling errors in the difficult conditions put paid to any scoring opportunities.

On the 20- minute mark Academy doubled their lead when their winger scored in the right-hand corner after several phases of play. Five minutes later they stretched their lead again when their prop crashed over at the foot of the posts after several forceful drives by the forwards.

Dee continued to work hard in defence in an attempt to avoid the floodgates opening and this effort was epitomised by Aaron McKee who ran the width of the field to make an excellent try-saving tackle on the Academy winger.

The back row of Ryan Butler, Bryn McCartney and Daniel Onstwedder were leading the tackle count for the Dee but in the final few minutes of the half the Academy number eight forced his way over to score the bonus point try and leave the half time score 22-0.

As has been the case all season, this Dee team rolled up their muddy sleeves and gave their all in the second half. Academy were fortunate to score after 5 minutes, after a knock-on went unpunished, but this seemed to galvanise the Dee. They started to put good phases together and good drives by Sam Moore, Nathan Boyd and veteran Davy Skipp helped the Dee to gain territorial advantage. Harry McCracken and the experienced Mark Cooper executed some probing kicks that took play deep inside the Academy 22.

After 15 minutes of the half the Dee were rewarded for this pressure when the powerful Ray Dobson managed to barge his way over the line to score. The difficult conversion was missed to leave the score 27-5 to Academy. Dee continued to go toe to toe with the visitors for the remainder of the half but, unfortunately, were not able to convert any of the chances into points. In the final couple of minutes Academy managed to score out wide to leave the final score 32-5.

Yet again, the effort of all eighteen players for the Dee could not be questioned and although the results are not going their way, this young team is gaining valuable experience which will pay benefits in seasons to come.

There was little debate about the Man-of-the-match this week as Mark Cooper had an outstanding game in the centre, superb in both defence and attack.

The Dee will enjoy a couple of weeks of well-earned rest until they travel to Coleraine on 9th March.

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