Clogher Valley 1st XV 27 Belfast Harlequins 1st XV 14

Clogher Valley took another senior club scalp with a 27-14 win over Belfast Harlequins at the Cran in the Ulster Premiership Division Two.

While the kicking boots were not being worn this week - with only one from five kicks successful - the sprinting boots were most certainly worn outscoring Harlequins by five tries to two.

The game had only past the 10 minute point, when Tommi Coulter broke for Clogher Valley, at the right time he popped the ball to Matthew Bothwell, who ran in beside the posts to score Valley’s first try. David Maxwell added the extra two points and the home side led 7-0.

Harlequins started to put some pressure on the home side which was compounded by a high Valley penalty count allowing the visitors to stay in the Valley half.

The next Clogher score came from good awareness of space by the Valley backs. Quins kicked clear but didn’t make touch. Ewan Haire collected and raced away from the chasing Quins players, with a 25 metre pass he cleared the danger and set Karl Bothwell into space. Bothwell outsprinted the Quins cover and touched down in the corner. The conversion wasn’t successful, but the home side led 12-0.

Quins, stunned into action, came straight back at the Valley, but the Clogher defence held strong. A penalty was kicked into Valley’s corner and the Quins forwards done the rest with a catch and drive from seven metres out. The try was converted to close the gap to 12-7 to the home side.

It took the Valley only three minutes to reply to the Quins score.

Good passing among the Valley backs and forwards created the gap for Luke Allen to cross the line close to the touch line. The kick wasn’t successful, but the Valley had extended their lead to 10 points, 17-7.

Quins started to control the game more, but the Valley defence was sound.

The visitors next try was to be a replication of the first. A well-rehearsed catch and drive from a few metres out set up and eventually crossed the line, with a successful conversion Quins had closed the gap to three points, 17-14.

That was to be the end of the visitors scoring for the afternoon, even though they tested the Valley tackling skills, they were unable to cross the line again.

As the game progressed into the second half, the Clogher scrum became very dominant, occasionally pushing Quins off their own ball.

It was the Valley full back Ewan Haire who was to get onto the score sheet in the second half. The dominant Valley scrum drove Quins back, the home side threw the ball wide and Haire was on hand to sprint past the Quins defence to score. The try was unconverted.

Valley’s final try came from a well worked move in the centre of the pitch, creating space for the backs to stretch their legs, with Karl Bothwell on hand to finish the move off with his second try of the afternoon.

The try was not converted but extended the Valley lead to 27-14. This was the score line when the match ended 12 minutes later.

Valley will take a lot of positives from this game. While their penalty count was much too high and Quins gained much of their advantage and ground from the Valley misdemeanours, the Valley defence was strong and the interplay between forwards and backs was fabulous to watch. The structure of the type of game coach Stephen Bothwell wants to play was certainly more evident than in last week’s game.

Player of the match was awarded to Michael Treanor, who made breaks around the pitch, that any player, forward or back would be proud off, coupled with his tackling which was immense.

Next week there is no game before the team travel to Ballina in their first All-Ireland league match on October 7.

Elsewhere in the club, the 2nd XV went down 24-7 to a strong Armagh 2nd XV.

After Armagh went 14-0 ahead, the Valley fought back to 14-7 with some fantastic interplay between the forwards and backs. Throughout the game, the Valley matched the visitors for speed, handling skills and power.

Armagh bagged two very late tries in the dying minutes to make the score line reflect a very different match.