Cooke entertained Clogher Valley on Saturday past in a must win game to keep their top four ambitions alive. Thankfully the forecast rain stayed away for most of the match allowing a free flowing game from the home side.
Cooke received the kick-off and started very brightly moving the ball wide at every opportunity. Alex Gourley opened the scoring with a fine individual effort slipping a couple of Clogher tacklers to go over out wide, brother Alan adding the extras.
Good set-piece ball allowed Cooke to maintain their expansive game with Jonathan Backus going over 5 minutes later, Alan Gourley failed with the conversion attempt. He made no mistake with a penalty shortly after from distance.
Good inter play between the backs allowed Jonathan Backus to score his second of the day, Gourley again added the extras. The bonus point was secured just before half-time when Jason Lyons barged over near the posts, this time converted by Alex Gourley.
Clogher started the second half brightly taking Cooke through the phases defensively. A turn over from the Cooke back row lead to a try finished by Kyle Mitchell, converted by Alex Gourley.
Cooke now playing with a high level of confidence spread the ball at every opportunity, Jonathan Backus showing a clean pair of heels scored his hat-trick with a fine individual effort, converted by Alan Gourley.
Clogher worked their way into the Cooke 22 from the restart and poor defense allowed the Clogher number 8 to burst through the middle of the ruck to dot down under the posts, with the simple conversion converted.
In the last play of the game Andrew Pollock took off down the left wing leaving a couple of would be tacklers in his wake. The conversion was missed by Gourley and the ref blew to end the game.
A vital bonus point win for Cooke. Man of the Match was shared between hat-trick hero Jonathan Backus and Liam Bennett for his robust work in the front row.
Next Saturday Cooke will entertain top of the table Ballyclare at Shawsbridge, with the 2nd XV playing Ballyclare 3s in the league also at home. The day will conclude with Cooke Women playing Tullamore at 5pm in the All Ireland League.
Pictures below: 1) Match day squad. 2) Joint Man of the Match winners Liam Bennett (left) and Jonathan Backus (right) accompanied by Cooke President Sam Loughrey.