RUGBY: On a perfect day for running rugby Strabane hosted Letterkenny who were trying to improve on their recent run of away results.
A much changed side due to injury for Letterkenny saw Coach Colin Farrell donning the right wing shirt and added a bit of physicality to that area of the field, there appear to be many good playing years left in him.
In the early stages the home team showed they ought not to be near the foot of the table if they were able to keep that momentum for 80 minutes. With a couple of good ball carriers able to breach a defence and a nippy scrum-half they did have chances early on but solid defence from the Letterkenny mid-field of Sean Deery and Michael Foy kept them at bay.
Letterkenny’s out-half Ryan Mortimer controlled the game from the off and the visitors were soon awarded a penalty which he slotted for a 3-0 lead.
Letterkenny’s scrum once again proved a dominant factor with the ‘kenny front row of birthday boy Rae Clarke, Sean McGill and Christopher Digimas causing havoc, so much so that in the latter stages of the game the scrums went to ‘un-contested.
After 10 minutes a series of rucks gained territory and good hands from scrum-half Conal Sheridan and Ryan Mortimer put Ben Mortimer into space and he galloped through the Strabane defence to swallow dive over the line for Mortimer the younger to convert.
Letterkenny now had the bit between their teeth and from the re-start took play into the Strabane 22, numerous phases reduced Strabane’s ability to defend and Sheridan saw a gap which he exploited to jink through and score a converted try to leave the visitors 17-0 up at the break.
From the re-start Letterkenny took the upper hand and early on Garry Canning turned the ball over at the breakdown and with support from Chris Lamberton, playing his best game in a Letterkenny shirt, created the platform for the backline to pull off a training ground play which saw centre Sean Deery crash over to extend the lead.
Three tries down and the home side, having lost a player to injury, gave a spirited performance and took the game to Letterkenny scoring two well taken tries in the space of 5 minutes, one of which was converted. This gave the visitors a wake-up call to go hunting the bonus point try and following a period in the sin bin Ben Mortimer charged down a kick near the Strabane line and followed up to touch down.
Ryan Mortimer took his tally to 11 points by converting the second of Deery’s tries to end the game with a convincing 36 points to 12 victory. Letterkenny will need to carry this form forward for the final two league encounters at home against UUC on 16th and BHSFP on 23rd April.
Strabane will be heading for an end of season play-off to avoid relegation against struggling Civil Service, a game which on this performance the Tyrone men should be more than capable of winning.
Letterkenny Team; Rae Clarke, Shaun McGill, Christopher Digimas, Ben Mortimer, Keelan Kriel, Chris Lamberton, Terence Gallagher, Conal Sheridan, Ryan Mortimer, Michael Carr, Sean Deery, Michael Foy, Colin Farrell (man of the match), Karl Egan.