Hedley’s praise for defensive platform 
on the way to positive league display

Richard Hedley.
Richard Hedley.

On an afternoon in which the performance level held greater value than the points, Portadown progressed past Ballynahinch for Conference League success by 21-17.

The switch from Qualifying League focus last weekend offered an opportunity to reshuffle the selection panel and tactics board.

Richard Hedley, the Chambers Park head coach, returned from Ballynahinch with a number of positives.

“The most impressive aspect was the shift put in by everyone, especially across a Conference League game,” said Hedley. “At times in the past we have lacked that edge in the Conference League but put in a really encouraging performance on Saturday.

“The senior players set the standard and that example was then followed on by everyone else.

“It is always important for the more experienced players to step up and take on the responsibility.

“We handed three more players a first taste of the senior level last weekend so that is also good for the long-term future of the club.

“We fielded a mix of quite young and quite experienced players and held a 14-10 lead for the majority of the second half before conceding a late try.

“It probably looked as if that was that but then we hit back at the restart and finished with a 21-17 win.

“The boys enjoyed it and managed to play without the normal pressure of Qualifying League points.

“The defensive work-rate was important.”

Portadown can enjoy a free weekend but return to the Qualifying League next Saturday away to Dromore.

“Dromore is a difficult venue for us but preparations have already started for that match,” said Hedley. “The blank programme can sometimes work in our favour as the players go into Dromore fresh and with the benefit of thinking about it for a few weeks.

“Another plus will prove the extra time that should present certain players a chance to recover from injury.

“This weekend our seconds have a tough cup match but can field a strong side.”

Weekend teamsheets:

Seconds v CIYMS (cup, away): M.Davison, RJ.Greenlee, G.Reid, R.Blair, D.Alexander, J.Burns, T.Johnson, D.Hardy, J.Hampton, O.Montels, C.Chambers, R.Ciack, C.Woods, R.Quinn, S.Buckley, A.Winters, D.Thompson, AN.Other.

Thirds v Ballymoney (league, home): G.Caldwell, J.Allen, S.May, A.Morton, P.Keightley, S.Lynas, J.Elliott, K.Boyce, G.McCullough, S.Hamilton, M.Beale, D.Harpur, A.Hara, R.Davis, G.Hutton.