MALONE II 21 COOKE 10
Malone retained the McCrea Cup by beating Cooke in the decide at Kingspan Stadium.
It was the third consecutive year the sides have met in the final but it was Malone’s powerful scrum that set the platform for victory as they outscored the Shaw’s Bridge team by three tries to one
Malone had the first chance to break the deadlock following a high tackle in midfield but out half Bruce Duff pushed the resulting penalty wide.
Cooke out half Alan Gourley was off target when he tried a long range penalty attempt on 19 minutes.
Gourley made amends four minutes later when he slotted over a penalty from a tight angle after Malone infringed at the breakdown.
Duff missed another penalty from straight in front of the posts on 27 minutes after Cooke went off their feet at the ruck.
Cooke had centre Jonathan Backus yellowed carded on 37 minutes Malone kicked the penalty to the corner but were guilty of a crocked throw at the lineout.
Cooke took the lineout option but Malone stole the throw and the forwards set up a powerful maul and rumbled towards the line before spinning it wide, flanker Neil Alcorn made a strong surge but was held up close to the line hooker Conor Kelly picked up and dived over from close range, Duff’s conversion gave the Gibson Park side a 7-3 half time lead.
Malone got their second try three minutes after the restart, a speculative high ball caused panic in the Cooke defence , centre Ryan Spence hacked on twice before flanker Johnny Ogilby fell on the ball over the line and Duff added the conversion.
Alcorn got Malone’s third try on 64 minutes.
Malone secured ball from their own lineout in the Cooke 22, the forwards made some hard metres before the ball was spun wider and the openside flanker powered over with Duff adding the conversion.
Malone had replacement Tom Dillage sin binned for deliberately killing the ball, Cooke from the penalty worked the ball through multiple phases but were held up over the line, from the resulting scrum the ball was spun into midfield and centre Kyle Mitchell went under the posts for a converted try.
Malone finished the game with 14 men when Darryl James Maxwell was yellow carded but Cooke couldn’t take advantage.
G Millar, J Knox, R Spence, D Irvine, J McMurtry, B Duff, C Jeffrey;
R Greenwood (capt), C Kelly, P Eadie, T Dillon, L Barlow, J Ogilby, N Alcorn, M Porter
T Dullage, G Crawford, A McKechnie, D-J Maxwell, J Betts
Alex Gourley, C Cregan, J Backus, K Mitchell, A Nelson, A Gourley, R Flavelle;
J McClune, D McErlean, R Hunter, J Walsh, J Lyons, M Elliott, C Robinson, A Dodd
Replacements R Collins, O Kelly, J Harper, I Anderson, A Hanna
Referee: L Evans