Recent results by both teams suggested that this would be a reasonably straightforward encounter for the Down High boys and so, in the end, it proved to be but the home team made reasonably hard work of their victory with a number of unforced errors and missed chances meaning that it was only in the closing minutes that the winning margin really became convincing.
Down High were missing a number of key players and when Carrick made searing breaks with their first couple of plays it looked like the form book may have done them an injustice but with their first real attack Down High took the lead when the ball was moved quickly to the right to create an overlap for Ryan Smith to stroll over from 5 meters, Luca Rea added the conversion to leave the score 7 – 0.
Down High regained possession from the restart and quickly worked their way deep into the Carrick half where Kelvin Hamilton collected a pass and proceeded to brush off three defenders to score under the posts, Luca Rea converted to give Down High a 14 – 0. The home team failed to capitalize on the early domination and the remainder of the half was a scrappy affair punctuated with numerous stoppages but on the stroke of half time Roger Birt brought the game to life scoring under the posts after a fine individual break, Rea added the extras to leave the half time score 21 – 0.
The second half saw a mini revival by the Carrick team when they produced their best rugby of the match was this was well contained by solid Down High defence and the home team soon regained domination of possession and territory but opportunities were wasted through conceding cheap penalties and poor ball retention meant that it was the 51st minute before the home side increased their lead when Luc Bonnargent scored under the posts after an incisive Jack Calvert break, Rea added the conversion to take the Down High lead to 28 – 0. That seemed to deflate the Carrick boys and their weak defence allowed Roger Birt to waltz his way through for his second try which was converted by Rea to take the score to 35 – 0. There was still time for a final flourish which saw Roger Birt complete his hat trick when he outpaced the Carrick defence to touchdown beneath the posts, the conversion was added leaving the final score 42 – 0.
The task will be much tougher next week when Down High host a much fancied Sullivan Upper 1st XV and with the Schools Cup looming there is much work to be done to fine tune what is proving to be a Down High team with great potential.