BANBRIDGE 5THs 22 Rainey 4ths 12
Banbridge Fifths entertained Rainey Fourths on a dark windy November afternoon that required floodlights for the most of the game.
Despite the wind in their faces Rainey started brightly and their pack drove into the Bann half. Several quick rucks allowed them to move the ball along their back-line and the Rainey winger scored out wide. The conversion was missed.
Bann, with the heavier of the two packs, started to have more success in the loose and with Neil McKinney making a rampaging break and setting up a ruck, Rainey were judged to be going over-the-top, allowing Bann outside half Anthony Molloy to slot the penalty. Indeed Molloy was making good use of the elements and some tactical out-of-hand kicking provided Bann with good offensive opportunities.
One soaring kick put Bann within ten metres of the Rainey line but a dropped ball allowed the opposition the possession and with the home back-line out of position Rainey were able to run the length of the pitch and score under the posts. The conversion was successful.
Bann put themselves under further pressure when a player was sin-binned for 10 minutes. However the remaining 14 players, knowing they had to up their game, scored a short time later. Elliott Bell, who took quality line-out ball all day, provided the platform to release Andy Kennedy and the big No 8 drove into the “22” where the ball moved quickly along the backline and Robbie Buller went in for a try, converted by Molloy.
Less than five minutes later Buller scored his second try. This time some fancy football skills allowed him to dribble the ball half the length of the pitch and out-pace the covering defence to score under the posts. Molloy again added the extras.
Bann were now full of confidence and putting Rainey under all sorts of pressure. From a static maul Kris Campbell broke away and carried the ball over 20 metres where he passed to Sean McDonald who drove on and set up a ruck just metres short of the line. From the ruck Jonnie Bell, who had a good game at scrum half, picked up and jinked his way over the line, giving his team a 22-12 interval lead.
Bann knew they were going to be up against it in the second half as Rainey now had the considerable wind in their favour. However all 15 Bann players were up to the task and showed great defence throughout the half. Elliott Bell was now not only taking his own line-out ball but also stealing the majority of Rainey ball. Centres Ramsey and Ross were snuffing out the Rainey back-line and when the Rainey winger did break away Matthew Copes was there for a try saving tackle.
The second half may not have been as exciting as the first in terms of scores, but it was a game-winning half for the whole Bann team as they prevented any further scores by Rainey and the game ended with a well deserved victory.