A 16 point haul by centre Paddy Wright wasn't enough to prevent Down High 1st XV from falling to a disappointing loss against Dalriada in their Danske Bank Subsidiary Shield game on Saturday in Downpatrick. The side were missing captain Callum Kerr and representative player Thomas Donnan for this game but ultimately displayed too many individual errors and moments of indiscipline to come away with victory in what remained a very winnable fixture.
Things got off to an awful start for the homeside when in the 2nd minute a midfield pass in attack was intercepted by the Dalriada full back who ran in for a try which was subsequently converted. Down responded well to this early set back and between good use of the boot for territorial gain and solid set piece work they applied pleasing pressure on the visitors. This pressure turned to points around the 12 minute mark when Paddy Wright opened the scoring for Down landing a penalty.
For much of the middle period of the half the two sides exchanged possession and territory in what was emerging as a a scrappy affair. However Dalriada extended their lead with 10 minutes left in the half after a period of lack lustre defence by the boys in green. Playing off a line out on the Down 22 the Dalriada backs unit executed a set piece play which in combination with some sloppy tackling by the Down midfield saw them touch down under posts, also allowing a straighforward conversion.
Again Down responded well to this concession and with about 5 minutes left in the half they earned a penalty on the 10metre line which Wright opted to kick. He struck it perfectly and reduced Dalriada's lead to 14-6.
Following half time Down came out rejuvenated and with an energy that had been lacking in aspects of their first half performance. Within 10 minutes of the half Wright had landed another long range penalty and reduced the gap to 5 points. Things got even better for the Down High centre shortly afterwards when he launched a perfectly weighted kick out of hand only to see it bounce awkwardly for the Dalriada defence and into his hands again. He was then able to to stride away from the covering defence and under the posts for a try which he ably converted giving Down the lead for the first time.
Despite this obvious shift in momentum the Down lead didn't last long when a few moments later the referee awarded Dalriada a penalty after some indiscipline by Down in the ruck. The visitors seized this opportunity and regained the lead.
Sadly after this Dalriada score Down were unable to regroup and from this point on things only got worse as they conceded another penalty and converted try before the final whistle. In the end Down were left disappointed with both the result and their performance against the hungrier Co. Antrim side.