Bangor 12 Clogher Valley 29

Clogher Valley have increased their lead at the top of the table to six points with a win over Bangor, whilst 2nd place Galwegians lost to Enniscorthy.

The score line from the Sports Ground in Bangor might suggest that this was a comfortable victory for the Valley, but the reality is it was as hard a fought encounter as they had all season.

The result was earned on the back of incredible and at times fanatical defence by the entire side.

The back row of Callum Smyton, Aaron Dunwoody and David Stinson was outstanding, while second-row forward Tomi Coulter's tackle count was phenomenal.

The Valley pack had a testing afternoon particularly in the set piece with the big Bangor pack dominating the early stages but in a side containing the Haire brothers the Valley had the ability and audacity to strike from deep.

The first quarter was spent in the Valley 22 holding out against the early Bangor onslaught.

Skipper Paul Armstrong cleverly got his body under the ball when a Bangor try seemed inevitable as his side desperately held on.

20 minutes in as a Valley scrum was retreating scrumhalf Matthew Bothwell found outhalf David Maxwell who spun it wide.

Ewan Haire made the incision to put Taine Haire away.

Regan Wilkinson from the opposite wing joined in before Paul Armstrong crashed over for the opening try.

The Valley's first visit to the Bangor half and scoring from over 80 metres out stung the home crowd into silence. The conversion was missed but the Valley had eased the early pressure.

The earlier pattern returned with Bangor in the ascendancy as Gilroy created space to put Scollen down the left wing breaking several Valley tackles to score out wide for a try which went unconverted.

From the restart, Valley gained better field position and control for a period.

David Maxwell arrowed a penalty down the line. A Good lineout, strong maul and after several pick and goes Tomi Coulter squeezed over under the posts for the Valley's second try duly goaled by Maxwell.

Again Bangor regrouped and returned to the offensive. With minutes left before the break, they created an overlap on the left-hand side but Ewan Haire read the play, intercepted and ran the entire length of the pitch to score a great individual try.

Maxwell then added the extras to leave the visitors leading by 14 points at the break.

In the second period, the visitors gained more parity up front and used it to good effect 10 minutes in.

This time a scrum penalty was awarded to the Valley. David Maxwell tucked it in at the corner.

The lineout was good followed by a go-forward maul and ending with Paul Armstrong stretching between defenders for the bonus point try. Unconverted but now a 19-point lead with half an hour left.

Bangor bludgeoned their way back into the Valley 22 but again great defending held them at bay.

Callum Smyton made several turnovers as the Valley frustrated the home side.

Man of the Match Ewan Haire made another searing 50-metre break but a fumble denied the visitors what would have been another great try.

Entering the final quarter Taine Haire found himself running into heavy traffic but great footwork took him through before setting David Maxwell off on a 40-metre dash to the line for the final Valley try which went unconverted.

Bangor did respond late on with the final try of the day from a well-worked line out and maul routine for a try which they duly goaled to wrap up proceedings for the day.

Next Saturday sees fourth place Bruff travel to the Cran.