A hard fought encounter ended with the visitors taking the spoils after a nail biting finish saw Down High unable to capitalize on a wind advantage in the second half and in the end they fell short by two points.
Having won the toss Down High elected to play into the wind and for most of the first half this looked to be the correct decision as the home team retained possession and defended well and strung together several excellent phases of play.
Portadown opened the scoring on 16 minutes when having lost a scrum against the head Down High were penalized for offside and the visitors took advantage with a straightforward penalty kick to establish a 3 – 0 lead. From the kick off Down High regained possession and a series of drives and carries took play into the Portadown twenty two and Justin Rea levelled the scores with a penalty to the left of the posts.
Portadown used the wind to move play back into the Down High half and when Jack Calvert was penalized at a ruck Portadown converted the kick to move ahead 6 – 3. From the restart Down High again captured possession and proceeded to put together their best period of the match with good carrying by Kelvin Hamilton, Ben Hale and Tommy McConnell taking play to within 5 meters of the opposition line and from the resulting ruck Thomas Donnan drove over for a well deserved Down High try. The conversion was missed but Down High led 8 -6.
The wind again helped Portadown take play deep in the Down High half but the home defence looked solid and well organized until a series of unforced errors culminated with a Portadown penalty five meters out and a quick tap saw them score their first try of the match which was converted to move the visitors back into the lead 13 – 8 after 30 minutes. Down High again moved back up the pitch and, as half time approached, were pressing Portadown back into their own 22 when Rory Martin was dispossessed after a fine break and Portadown broke away to run 70 meters for a try under the posts which was converted to leave the visitors holding a 20 – 8 lead at the interval.
Down High used the wind well at the start of the second half and soon reduced the deficit with a Justin Rea penalty taking the score to 20 – 11. Down High continued to press but too often opportunities were wasted through individual errors and poor ball retention but with eight minutes remaining Down High were awarded a penalty five meters out and Jack Calvert scored under the posts from the quick tap. Justin Rea added the extras to leave the score 20 -18. Despite having the territorial advantage for the last few minutes Down High were unable to manufacture the necessary opportunity to seal the match and were left rueing missed opportunities as the full time whistle sounded to the relief of Portadown who finished with a 20 – 18 victory.