Banbridge RFC Notes: Hard working U17s win through to cup semi ~ U15s blitz Cavan in rampant first half (includes action shots) & Blistering start sets up U13s for win over ‘Skins

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Youth Semi-finals this weekend
Saturday’s youth semis this weekend are as follows
U-17 Cup – Banbridge v Clogher Valley
U-15 Bowl – Banbridge v Monaghan
U-13 Plate – Rainey v Banbridge (venue changed under Youth Regulations to balance out Clubs’ travelling)
All kicking off at 11am.

Hard working U17s win through to cup semi
BANBRIDGE U17s 14 Lurgan 3

Bann’s Under-17 side had to work hard for this win in the quarter-final of the Ulster Cup. Lurgan played well to their strengths, namely a big solid pack and tactically astute out-half, but ultimately the greater all-round ability of the home side told.

Adam Copes’ early try, converted by Macauley Little, edged Bann ahead, but Lurgan’s penalty kept them within striking distance until hard-working No 8 Neil Cochrane sealed the win with his team’s second try, with Little again adding the extras.

Bann now host Clogher Valley in the semi-finals, with the winners going through to the May 5th final at Ravenhill, where they will meet the winners of the Malone – Randalstown semi-final.

U15s blitz Cavan in rampant first half
BANBRIDGE U15s 52 Cavan 5

Click Here for the pictures
As a contest this game was decided in the first half. Against the breeze the Bann backs ran riot through the Cavan defence.

Josh Cromie opened the scoring with a dart from the back of a ruck. Then Jason Jardine went on a mazy run from his own half and outstripped the defence for the five pointer. Josh Cromie was next again showing great strength and determination ripping the ball off the Cavan lock and running in to score.

Captain Alex Megaw was next with a worked move with Cameron Cromie running a great line to get his name on the scoresheet. The half finished with Cameron Cromie bulldozing his way through three defenders to leave the half time score at 29-0.

The second half saw Cavan enjoy some good possession and there was no score for about 15 minutes. The visitors eventually got their break when their winger caught the Bann defence asleep and scored in the corner.

No 8 Ross Haughey was next to score for Bann when, from a short lineout, he powered his way over the line for his first home score. From the restart came the try of the match. Jake Chambers caught the ball and fended of one tackler and dummied past another before off-loading in the tackle to Adam Cromwell. He made another 15 metres before passing to Alex Megaw who outstripped the defence to get his second of the morning.

The game finished with the forwards keeping it tight through a series of rucks which saw Sam Mount crash over for the final score.

This was another fine performance from the boys who clearly don’t want their season to finish just yet. Monaghan provide the opposition for Saturday’s home semi-final Jake Chambers was the pick of the pack and Alex Megaw best of the backs, but it was Josh Cromie whose grit and tenacity saw him lift the man-of-the-match award.

Blistering start sets up U13s for win over ‘Skins
BANBRIDGE U13s 34 Enniskillen 21

In recent games Bann have suffered due to slow starts, with their heads still in the shed, whilst the opposition have started well, and as the big Enniskillen team headed up to the pitch it was imperative that Bann hit the field running in this key quarter-final game.

As it turned out their start was amongst the best of the whole season as the Enniskillen line was crossed in the 2nd minute by John Buller, converted by Tom Flanagan. This early confidence boost got the whole team’s energy levels up with William Cousins and Troy Pinion adding further tries in the 6th and 11th minutes before the ‘Skins had even settled into their game plan.

Enniskillen had a solid scrum with a big back row and once they settled the game became attritional with Bann looking to spin the ball wide away from the big opposition forwards and Enniskillen relishing scrummaging and tight quarters play. Enniskillen finally got on the board with an unconverted try in the 19th minute but from the re-start the tight game resumed.

Rucking and counter-rucking was intense and ball carriers from both sides were guilty of losing the ball in contact with Charlie Wright and Daniel McBurney both notable for stripping the ball in tackle situations. Even when the ‘Skins got the ball to the ground in the tackle they weren’t safe as Hayden Kerr stole the ball repeatedly by managing to keep his feet when fulfilling the role of the first man in. Turn-over ball provided McBurney with Bann’s fourth try to bring a half time score of 22-5.

When Charlie Wright crashed over the line in the first minute of the second half, with Tom Flanagan adding the conversion, it looked ominous for Enniskillen at 29-5. Many youth teams would have crumbled at this stage, but the ‘Skins were made of sterner stuff and refused to capitulate. Basing their game on a strong scrum they held Bann in a tight second half contest in which little quarter was shown by either team.

Enniskillen repeatedly won scrums by ‘choke-tackling’ Bann players who couldn’t recycle the ball from the ensuing maul. Bann minimised the risk by avoiding scrums (even allowing Enniskillen to re-take a drop out that didn’t go 10 metres), but concentrated on picking off isolated Enniskillen ball carriers who didn’t protect the ball well enough. Enniskillen utilised their big centre to advance the ball well and were rewarded in the 19th minute with a converted try.

Bann responded in the 21st minute with a thrilling move from mid-field, advancing the ball by repeatedly passing out of contact, culminating with Jamie Mullan crashing over at the corner flag. The touch judge confirmed that Jamie hadn’t stepped into touch, but Tom Flanagan was left with a difficult conversion attempt from the touch line that was so far wide he had to take a flag down to address the ball. He didn’t quite manage to make the distance but the angle was spot on.

To their credit Enniskillen simply refused to meekly see out the final minutes and instead threw themselves forward with purpose.. Wave after wave of attackers surged to the Bann line resulting in repeated 5-metre attacking scrum awards, and after a particularly strong run by the No 8 was stopped inches short, a quick shift of attacking angle exploited the narrowness of the Bann defence and yielded a deserved converted try in the final play of the game.

So Enniskillen ‘won the second half’, but Bann’s shattering first ten minutes in the first half proved to be the telling period, putting the game beyond the ‘Skins. Bann now travel to Rainey for Saturday’s semi-final as they endeavour to retain the trophy won last season.

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