Clogher Valley 19 Midleton 21

The Valley suffered their third defeat in the league on Saturday against a big Midleton side who came to the Cran in a very determined frame of mind.

Their two second-row forwards towered over the Valley pack and they proceeded to have a very big influence at the lineout.

Three minutes in the visitors had a penalty that sailed just wide but that started a period of Valley dominance that would see them play some effective rugby.

A penalty gave David Maxwell a chance to gain a good field position.

On this occasion, the lineout was secured and after several phases, Callum Smyton breached the defence before putting his skipper, Paul Armstrong, in for the opening try but there was no conversion on this occasion.

Impartial Reporter: Valley's Karl Bothwell goes past the Midleton prop.Valley's Karl Bothwell goes past the Midleton prop. (Image: Impartial Reporter)

Taine Haire was taken down by a high tackle as he tried to weave his way through the Midleton defence.

As the offender was the 6ft 6inch lock this gave a good opportunity to secure the resulting lineout.

A strong surging maul resulted in Kyle Cobane getting the second try which was duly converted by David Maxwell.

In the 26th minute, Midleton reduced the arrears to nine points with a well-taken penalty.

Four minutes later they reduced it even further with a converted try to leave the half-time score at 12-10 in the Valley's favour.

Impartial Reporter: Tommi Coulter drives through the Midleton defence.Tommi Coulter drives through the Midleton defence. (Image: Impartial Reporter)

The second period was a hugely frustrating affair.

For the first 20 minutes, the Valley backs hardly touched the ball.

The game stagnated into a midfield scrumathon.

Matthew Bothwell did try to inject a higher tempo with several tap-and-go penalties but the official for some reason or other called play back for yet another scrum.

A long-range penalty saw Midleton take the lead for the first time with the clock edging into the last quarter.

From the restart, the Valley were more positive but in attempting to move the ball wider it was intercepted by a Midleton centre who raced in from the halfway line for a try which went unconverted.

The Valley, now trailing by six points, flung themselves forward and after a series of pick-and-goes, Joel Busby crossed for what the entire Valley thought was the decisive try.

David Maxwell added the extras to edge his side into a one-point lead.

Impartial Reporter: David Maxwell weaves his way through the Midleton's defence.David Maxwell weaves his way through the Midleton's defence. (Image: Impartial Reporter)

Midleton however did gain a strong position on the stroke of full-time.

A scrum penalty was awarded to them even though they were in reverse gear at the time.

Up stepped their out half who slotted over the all-important kick and condemned the Valley to only their fourth defeat of the season.

The Valley now need six points from the remaining two games to clinch the league title with next week's trip to Tullamore the most important match of the season.

Impartial Reporter: Valley's David Stinson takes the ball a little further towards the Midleton's try line.Valley's David Stinson takes the ball a little further towards the Midleton's try line. (Image: Impartial Reporter)