Firsts suffer heavy defeat in Conference League (17 Nov 18)
Cooke experimented with a number of positional and personnel changes against a very competent Ballynahinch seconds at Ballymacarn.
The home pack made life very difficult for the youthful Cooke 8 and it took only 5 minutes for the Hinch outside centre to break through for an unconverted try. The pressure endured by the Cooke forwards was illustrated when Hinch was awarded a penalty try shortly afterwards as the visitors were deemed guilty of disrupting a scrum on their 5m line. Hinch’s third try came from a well executed line out catch and drive at which stage young Cooke Loose Head, Aaron Hunter, retired injured.
Cooke continued to defend stubbornly and when awarded a penalty deep in Hinch territory, debutant scrum-half, Phil Wood, tapped quickly and moved the ball to winger Andy Nelson who registered an unconverted try for the Belfast team. Hinch resumed business immediately and having secured a line-out on the Cooke 22, marched the visitors back to the try line to claim a converted try and bringing the half time score line to Ballynahinch IIs 26 : Cooke 5.
The second half continued miserably for Cooke when Hinch claimed another unconverted try after just 3 minutes when the ball was spread to their side’s speedy left winger. By the midway point of the half Cooke had lost influential No 8 Jason Lyons and hooker James Milligan to injury, reducing the side to 14 and requiring uncontested scrums. Ballynahinch ran in two more tries during the period with their openside flanker and right winger adding their names to the score sheet.
In what might be described as a final act of defiance, Cooke centre Johnny Backus scored a final try as the full time whistled beckoned, bringing the closing score line to Ballynahinch IIs 43 : Cooke 10
While the result of this game was never in doubt, Cooke must take credit for their tenacious defence against a well drilled, strong running side. Phil Wood, making his debut for the team, impressed with long ,accurate passes to his backs while avoiding the attention of the dominant Hinch pack. It was also good to see Alex Gourley return to action after a lengthy lay off.
(1-8) A Hunter, J Milligan, R Hunter, J Walsh, M Crothers, J Harper, C Robinson, J Lyons
(9-15) P Wood, Alan Gourley, A Hanna, J Backus, A Nelson, R Flavelle (c) Alex Gourley
Subs: R Mitchell, P Cartmill