Lisburn 28

Clogher Valley 27

Clogher Valley made their exit from the Junior Cup on Saturday as they lost out narrowly away to Lisburn on Saturday.

As expected this was a keenly contested game from the off. The lead changed hands no fewer than five times and after extra time only one point separated the teams with the result going to the home team.

Valley started well and within the first five minutes both wingers were involved as the ball was moved wide. The pressure continued as the side continued to develop the open style of play new coach Stephen Bothwell has brought to the club and which players have bought into.

After 10 minutes Lisburn had a player yellow carded after a series of penalties. This was to be a feature of the game as Lisburn sought to slow down Valley ruck ball illegally. From the resultant penalty Valley kicked to touch but their usually reliable line-out did not function and the ball bobbled loose. Scrum half Trotter quickly recovered and spotting a gap on the blind side put captain Treanor over in the corner for a try. This was converted from the touch-line by Smyton and Valley led 7-0.

Lisburn slowly got more into the game as Valley started to infringe as well. After 20 minutes a lineout for Valley in their own 22 saw a defensive box kick land on halfway with the Lisburn no 13. There seemed to be little danger, but the kick chase was poor, and the centre sprinted to midfield, with Valley missing tackles and sent his No14 on a looping run which ended with a try in the corner. Kick was missed so 7-5 to Valley.

Throughout the game the same Lisburn players caused havoc in the Valley defence every time they got the ball. Valley could not find a way to stop them and it was to be a major reason for the eventual loss.

Within five minutes Lisburn had again shredded the Valley defence and another converted try saw them lead 12-5.

Valley fought back but the aggressive defence at the ruck by Lisburn meant Valley were getting slow and untidy ball which meant the backs were always under pressure when they received the ball. A good break by Trotter after 35 minutes was carried on by man of the match Coulter but the Lisburn defence managed to snuff the danger out. Valley had a series of five metre scrums, but Lisburn defence held out until just on half time when Trotter picked up and went over for a try. Another superb kick from the touchline by Smyton saw Valley take a deserved lead 14-12 at half-time.

Valley started the second half poorly. They had little cohesion and were missing tackles all over the park. It was no surprise that Lisburn regained the lead from a rolling maul that was poorly defended by Valley. The kick was missed but Lisburn led 17-14.

From the Valley restart, after 48 minutes, hooker Cobane charged down the attempted clearance kick, managed to regain the ball and charged for the line. He was stopped just short but with the Lisburn defence in disarray a short pass would see a Valley try under the posts. It was not to be; a Lisburn defender 'got in the way' and collected the pass as he lazily ran back. An undoubted penalty and a yellow card. The only surprise for Valley was that the referee did not award a penalty try.

Eventually after a series of five metre scrums and with Valley being held up over the line twice Trotter put Coulter over for a try on the blind side. Kick was missed but Valley led 19-17.

The game degenerated into a midfield slog with neither side able to breakthrough. After 60 minutes Valley broke the impasse when the pack demolished a Lisburn scrum and a long-range penalty was kicked by Smyton for a 22-17 lead. Unfortunately for Valley another long-range penalty was missed on 66 minutes.

This galvanised Lisburn and Valley were forced to defend deep in their 22 for the rest of the normal time game. With four minutes left on the clock a Valley player was yellow carded and Lisburn scored a try from the resultant penalty. Valley were relieved when the kick missed and were further reprieved when another kick was missed just on full time. An absorbing game saw neither side able to deliver the killer blow.

And so, to extra time. Immediately Valley infringed, and Lisburn kicked a long-range penalty to go up 25-22. Which they held to the end of the first period of extra time. The second period started the same as the first with Valley conceding a penalty which Lisburn kicked to lead 28-22 with eight minutes remaining.

It seemed that score would settle the game. Valley had other ideas. They tore into Lisburn from the restart and recovered the ball. A good passage of play between forwards and backs saw flanker Dunwoody go over for a try and a one-point deficit. The kick was difficult and was missed but ordered to be retaken as Lisburn charged too early. Unfortunately for Valley it missed again. They were not to get another chance.

Lisburn closed the game out pinning Valley in their own 22. Valley could not break free for one last chance and Lisburn ran out winners by one point 28-27.

Whilst the forwards won plenty of possession it was untidy, and the backs could not find a way through the Lisburn defence. The team generally missed too many tackles in open play and allowed the Lisburn backs too much freedom. In such a tight game it invigorated a Lisburn team that appeared beaten on several occasions. A harsh lesson for this young Valley team.

Valley move on with a trip to Ards next weekend for an important league game.