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Super effort lands first 1st XV Trophy in 50 years

Published: 11 Mar 2011 09:000 comments

Portora 1st XV 22; Omagh Academy 1st XV 5;

Portora 1st XV won their first trophy for over 50 years when they comfortably defeated neighbours Omagh Academy in fine style at Dungannon on Thursday to lift the Northern Bank sponsored Trophy tournament.

Portora's Rory Gibson is caught by Omagh Academy's Adam Longwell.

Portora led 5-0 at half-time and in the second period pushed forward to take the game by the scruff of the neck to race into a 22-0 lead before Omagh scored a late try but it was merely of consolational value after what was an historic day for the young Portora squad.

It was no more than they deserved for their hard work all season. Portora approached the final with some degree of confidence with their build up going well and their skills honed following aa productive workout against the Enniskillen U19.

Omagh started well with a series of big carries by their forwards deep into Portora territory indicative of their style of their play. This necessitated some relentless defensive work from the Portora team and they stood up to the test forcing Omagh to knock on on numerous occasions.

Indecisive decision making on behalf of the Omagh players by not taking their chances kept Portora in the game. After weathering the initial storm, the Portora players gradually grew in confidence.

The in-form James Ferguson made a searching break and his sweeping pass of his left hand found Johnny Magwood who took the ball deep into the Omagh half. From a series of rucks, Omagh were penalised in their own 22 metres. However, James Ferguson missed the penalty and the game remained deadlocked.

At this stage the Portora side were beginning to take a grip on the game with great work by the forwards, especially Matthew Mulligan at open side, who was causing all sorts of problems at ruck time aided by the strong work of the front row of Farrell, Henderson and McCurry, the backs began to get some quick ball.

Ben Forbes was a constant threat on the right wing and with some neat chip and chases, he helped pinned the Omagh back three deep into their own half.

Nearing half-time and with a series of penalties, the Portora pack had the confidences to pin the Omagh forwards on their own goal line with a series of hammers and eventually Neill Henderson got over for the opening score. The conversion was missed as the whistle went for half-time with Portora in the lead at 5-0.

The second half commenced with Omagh pressing hard for their opening score, but it was the Portora forwards who were beginning to exert their presence and the impressive Rodney Blair and Neill Allen in the second row began to turn ball over which allowed the talented Portora scrum half, Rory Gibson to deliver quick ball to the young and impressive out half, Robert Connor to probe down the corners with some neat kicks.

A fine pass from young Connor found James Ferguson hitting a great angle leaving the Omagh defence dead on their feet as Ferguson run inside and outside to clear the last defenders and score an exquisite try in the corner which was duly converted by the same player leaving the score 12-0 to Portora.

At this stage the Portora pack were in the ascendancy, and with the assurance and experience of Graham Rutherford at re-start time, it meant the pack was in control of proceedings.

Then a great kick by Robert Connor had the Omagh full-back scrambling back to cover the bounce and with the hard running Rory Gibson chasing the ball, he slid on the ball but failed to grasp but the following-up Mulligan did get the touchdown to score in the corner and Portora now led 17-0.

Any chance of an heroic Omagh comeback was quickly dispelled when Portora scored their fourth try as Gibson passed to John McClaughery down the blind side and then to the speedster, Johnny Magwood to score Portora's final try of the afternoon. Andrew Johnston then replaced Kaine Holden who had a fine game with some great storming runs, Nathan Richmond came on for John McClaughery and James Stevenson came on for Johnny Magwood.

Omagh in the dying minutes eventually got a consolation try to leave the score 22-5 to a jubilant and ecstatic team and supporters as Adam Farrell was presented with the Northern Bank Trophy from the sponsors of the competition.

Portora squad:

A Farrell (capt), N Henderson, A McCurry, R Blair, G Rutherford, N Allen, M Mulligan, K Holden, R Gibson, R Connor, J McClaughery, J Ferguson, J Magwood, B Forbes, C Donaldson, A Johnston, D Sheridan, B Parkinson, N Richmond, J Stevenson, J Johnston.

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