Sammy Russells up a win with two tries for Dromore

Graeme McCandless does his best to escape some close attention.
Graeme McCandless does his best to escape some close attention.

Sammy Russell scored two tries as Dromore beat Ards 12-6 at Barban Hill at the end of December.

The hosts found themselves 6-0 down at the break but with a whirling wind having a huge bearing on the game, they used it to their advantage to score two tries in the second half and seal the victory.

Adam McDonald tries to power forward for Dromore.

Adam McDonald tries to power forward for Dromore.

It was a result that leaves Dromore seventh in Kukri Qualifying League One but level on points with sixth placed Omagh.

Ards opened the scoring inside the opening minutes with a successful penalty attempt. The hosts, meanwhile, found it difficult to get any phases of play together due to the blowing head wind.

As their positive start continued, the away side progressed into the red zone only for Adam McDonald to steal the ball. An eventual penalty allowed Dromore to ease some of the pressure.

Dromore played some good phases of rugby with close, tight control from the forwards which helped counteract the wind. George Wilson and Ryan Hughes ran hard and eventually won the penalty. It was a good passage of play which allowed Dromore to waste time while playing into the wind.

Alastair Kinghan in action.

Alastair Kinghan in action.

Ards, however, got their hands on the ball once again and won another penalty in a kickable position. With the kick successful, the score ticked over to 6-0 to the visitors. The away side had good opportunities to add to their score, but Dromore’s defence stood strong.

A good line from Ali Kinghan found space, but he was chopped down with a tackle without arms by their open-side flanker, who received a yellow card for his trouble.

At the following lineout, Dromore set a good maul only for Ards to turn the ball over. Nevertheless, Dromore regathered and continued to press then visiting defence.

The score remained 6-0 at the end of the half and while it wasn’t a spectacle, Dromore were happy with the solid defensive performance offered despite playing against the wind.

Straight from the restart, Dromore pinned Ards back on their own line with a mistake from the away side. The hosts couldn’t capitalise but they still remained inside the opposition’s half. Errors thwarted Dromore’s progress, but Ards looked just as likely to make a mistake.

And the pressure eventually told as Dromore struck through winger Sammy Russell. The ball was given to the backs off a solid Dromore scrum and Russell picked a great line off John Cullen to break the defence. He outpaced his opposite number to slide in under the posts. Twin brother John Russell added the extras and put Dromore into the lead.

Michael Harshaw then won a crucial penalty inside the 22 to keep the pressure on, but the ball was lost due to inaccuracies at the lineout.

Ards found it hard to get out of their half and hits from Ryan Hughes and Adam McGregor kept the visitors under the cosh.

Ards won the ball back and began to produce the most number of phases this half. They marched up to the Dromore half with direct running from their forward pack and strong centres. Adam McGregor stopped the move with a good poach and Dromore cleared into the Ards 22.

After several carefully constructed phases of play, Ards’ ferocious defence forced the knock on and allowed them to gather the ball again.

Dromore once again found themselves a man advantage when an Ards prop was sent to the sin bin. Ards dealt well with the maul, halting it at the five metre line. Dromore continued to use the forwards but Ards stood firm and repelled everything. The ball was thrown wide only to be spilled by a forced pass.

Dromore sealed the game after Rory Pepper pinched the ball at the ruck. Quick phases followed and gave the home side momentum and silky hands from Adam McDonald released Sammy Russell who stepped the full back for his second try of the day.

After the score, Ards put together a good run of play seeing them get down to 10 metres from the Dromore line. Good defence from Dromore saw them use the choke tackle to turn the possession over and secure the victory.