COOKE 20 MALONE II 26
Malone II lifted the McCrea Cup at Kingpsan Stadium on Easter Monday with a well deserved win over Cooke.
The East Belfast side had led 26-6 at one stage and had to withstand a late challenge from Cooke to avenge last season’s final defeast
Malone dominated the first half, reflective in thier interval lead, but they really should have put the gamd beyond doubt at the break.
A try after five minutes for winger Jack McMurtry, converted by fullback Rory Campbell, gave them the ideal start and a 7-0 lead.
Kukri Qualifying League One side Cooke rallied and pressed the Malone line. The defence stood firm, but Cooke did get on the scoreboard after 11 minutes with a penalty from outhalf Alan Gourley.
From there the Ulster 2nd XV League side dominated and spurned several decent trry scoring chances.
Penalties from fullback Campbell on 15 and 28 minutes moved them 13-3 ahead, although Gourley banged one over for Cooke after a rare sortie into Malone territory on 31 minutes.
Malone enjoyed a strong finish to the half with a lovely break by centre Josh Pentland putting number eight Richard Miller away under the posts for a try.
Campbell converted and took his side in leading 23-6 with a 40m penalty on the break.
Cooke had wingforward Adrian dodd sin-binned early in the second half - Campbell missing with the long range penalty - but it was still the South Belfast side who had the possession and slight territorial advantage.
Cooke came right back and Callum Robinson was held up. But the South Belfast side threw themselves a lifeline when captain Brian Mannus barged over from close range and Gourley converted to half the Malone lead at 26-13.
Cooke ensured a grandstand finish. Winger Alex Gourley was high-tackled and Malone lock Cory Tipping was sin-binned.
But the Cooke side rallied and a crossfield kick from Philip Cartmill found Alex Gourley and with his brother, Alan, converting there were six points between the sides.
Campbell saw a penalty in the final minute rebound off the left pole, but Cooke were unable to work the ball out of their own half and it was Malone captain Darryl J Maxwell who received gthe trophy from Ulster Branch president, John McKibbin.